Director of Fruitland Park Library, Lives in Mount Dora
In the House: As a Secret Service agent, I worked at the White House and my job was to protect President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush, and their immediate families. My posts were on the south grounds and north grounds. I also had driving posts around the White House.
First day on the job: I was in a patrol car with another man when we saw a fight in a park off 16th Street. One guy had a machete; the other guy had a stick. I ran up to the men and said, ‘What the hell is wrong with you guys? Put your weapons down now!’ The guy with the stick was injured, so I took off his shirt, wet it under a fountain and pressed it against his wound.
Never up in arms: In those days I carried a Smith & Wesson revolver. Fortunately, I never had to draw my gun. Nothing scary ever happened as far as the lives of Reagan and Bush being threatened. The assassination attempt on Reagan happened several years before I joined the Secret Service.
Having a ball: Reagan threw some wonderful parties in the White House. I had the honor of watching Marvin Hamlisch play the piano, hearing Johnny Mathis sing, and seeing Princess Diana and John Travolta dance together.
“The Great Communicator”: Reagan was an outstanding man. He would acknowledge me whenever we passed in the hallway and he always remembered my name. Despite his age, he was in the gym every morning at 7a.m. and at his desk in a suit by 9a.m.
Career change: My husband also was in the Secret Service. In 1990, he received a promotion and was transferred to North Carolina. I did not want to be split up from him, and I knew that I still wanted to have kids. So I retired.
Book it: My family moved to Mount Dora 10 years ago. I volunteered at several local elementary schools and public libraries. In 2009, I became the director of Fruitland Park Public Library.
Turning a new page: These days, libraries are more service-oriented. We help people find jobs, write resumes, and receive government assistance. Today, libraries are seen more as community centers. People come here to enjoy a cup of coffee or watch the news. I refer to libraries as the “third place” behind home and work.
Favorite author: I am a fan of Debra Sharp, a Florida-based writer and author of the “Mama” series. I enjoy her down-to-earth writing style.
Favorite book: Anything to do with food history. I have always loved cooking.
Desired tombstone inscription: “Wife. Mother. Practical joker.”
Quote to live by: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Jo-Ann served as a Secret Service agent from 1984 to 1990.