Jimmy Lomax calling it quits

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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator
____________________________________________

June 11, 2010
Danielle Wong
Hamilton's Santa Claus is hanging up his red suit after more than half a century of bringing Christmas to the city.

Jimmy Lomax and his wife, Susan, announced today he was passing the annual management of their charitable organization, Operation Santa Claus, to the CHML/Y108 Children's Fund.

According to a press release from CHML, Lomax made the decision after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"If you were kind enough to support Operation Santa Claus with your time, money and/or toy donations, we encourage you to lend that same support to the CHML/Y108 Children's Fund as they continue in their annual holiday fundraising initiatives," Lomax said in the press release.

"The CHML/Y108 Children's Fund is a great cause that mirrors the goal behind everything Susan and I have tried to achieve in making sure all children enjoy the Christmas season."

Lomax, who started his St. Nick role in 1958, retired from Stelco eight years ago to concentrate on the charity. Operation Santa brings gifts and cheer to hospital patients, families, seniors and the poor annually.

Lomax has survived three heart attacks and had health issues in recent years.
 

scotto

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City Santa hangs up his suit

Danielle Wong
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 12, 2010)
Santa Claus is just a normal man after all.

Sitting in an armchair at his Beach Boulevard home, Jimmy Lomax is wearing a red cardigan and absentmindedly jingling bells between sentences.

Hamilton's Father Christmas has brought gifts to the city's poor and sick for more than half a century, but yesterday, the 67-year-old hung up his red suit for good.

"Right now, it's upsetting. It's going to be an empty feeling," said Lomax, breathing through an oxygen tube.

Lomax and his wife Susan announced yesterday they were ending a 52-year era and handing over their charity, Operation Santa Claus, to the CHML/Y108 Children's Fund.

Lomax made the difficult decision last month after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February.

Seven years ago he started using a scooter to move around hospital wings, and in recent years his health problems made it increasingly difficult to do the work.

Lomax continually fought back tears yesterday as he spoke.

"I've gone through three generations of people," he said, his voice shaking. "I work closely with ex-psychiatric patients. I've been their Santa for I don't know how long. I'm going to miss that. I'm going to miss seniors, too. You're just going to have to tie us up at Christmas."

Susan nodded knowingly.

"It's been his life," she said.

And that life hasn't been an easy one.

When Lomax was seven, he had a lung disorder and was told he only had three years to live. His family brought him home for Christmas that year and he received a visit from Santa. That meeting encouraged Lomax to don the Santa suit at the age of 15, bringing $5 worth of candy to sick children in hospitals.

Lomax's only child, Ryan, died of cancer at 15. If he were still alive, the Santa legacy would've been his if he wanted it, Lomax said.

Throughout the years, the Lomaxes have pulled from their own pockets to pay for the operation's expenses, which included numerous wigs, beards, several Mrs. Claus outfits and 25 Santa suits.

One of his red coats lay on a couch in the living room where the Lomaxes reminisced yesterday.

"I wanted to be a Santa Claus -- not a doctor, not a lawyer. I wanted to be like Santa," Lomax said.

The couple has lived Christmas year-round for decades, with Susan laying out beards and wigs around the living room by October and Lomax growing out his Santa beard from Boxing Day to Christmas Eve in the latter years.

The Lomaxes' back yard has even been transformed into the North Pole, as a warehouse, storage tent and two sheds have been set up to house the charity's equipment.

In 2002, Lomax retired after 38 years with Stelco and concentrated on being Santa Claus.

He had never been without a job and people have asked him why he doesn't live in a big house. He told them: "I invested in people ... Heaven pays the highest interest. That's all I know. It's everybody's duty to help one another."

In 1981, local businesspeople sent the family on an overdue vacation to Orlando, Fla. They were given $6,500 to spend, but Lomax ended up giving it all away to the needy people he saw there.

And his selfless attitude has not gone unnoticed. He has been awarded the Order of Canada, the Ontario Medal for Outstanding Citizenship, Hamilton's Distinguished Citizen of the Year and the Queen's Jubilee Medal.

Operation Santa Claus, which was founded in 1958, provides more than $200,000 in gifts and cheer for about 80,000 people annually.

The Lomaxes said they hope their donors continue to support their life cause through CHML's Christmas Tree of Hope project.

And now, with one era ending, the Lomaxes will finally have time to think about themselves.

They have decades-worth of housecleaning to do, Susan said, adding the kitchen is full of paperwork and she has to "pave a path" in a basement full of supplies.

The couple may finally get a restful, peaceful Christmas season this year.

"We've always wanted to stay home, make shortbread cookies, go to church Christmas Eve, put the carols on," Lomax said. "We've never been able to do that."

dawong@thespec.com

905-526-2468
 

scotto

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Hamilton should honour Jimmy Lomax on school, stadium or hospital

Steve Hoedt
The Hamilton Spectator
Dunnville
(Jun 16, 2010)
Re: 'City Santa hangs up his suit' (June 12)

It was sad to read of the declining health of Jimmy Lomax and his need to step down from his Santa duties.

Lomax is a saint among men, giving to others his whole life, bringing presents to young and old for all those years, even after his personal losses. His annual gate collections at Stelco were well known and had tremendous support.

He needs a permanent mark, etched into the stone of Hamilton's history. While Lomax is still with us, it is time for Hamilton to spread the name "Jimmy Lomax" far and wide. One of the following would be suitable:

* Name the children's wing of McMaster hospital after Lomax. Usually this honour is for financial benefactors, but Lomax has given far more than signing a cheque.

* Name a public school after him. His lifelong connection with kids would be perfectly illustrated.

* The perfect name for a Pan Am stadium? Jimmy Lomax Centre. Let's show the world who came from Hamilton -- the true Santa.

I hope Mayor Fred Eisenberger and his council read this and act quickly so Lomax can see how the city feels about him.

After 32 years at Stelco, one thing I can say with pride -- "Jimmy worked there, too!"
 

scotto

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The time to honour Jimmy Lomax is now

Patricia Jaggard
The Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton
(Jun 23, 2010)
Re: 'Not to immortalize Jimmy Lomax in Hamilton would be a travesty' (Letters, June 21) and 'Hamilton should honour Jimmy Lomax on school, stadium or hospital' (Letters, June 16)

I agree with both letter writers. I live in the same neighbourhood as Jimmy and Susan Lomax and I used to attend the Santa Showers at the Beach Rescue Unit and have always supported Operation Santa Claus.

They are my friends who have always been good to me at Christmas.

My heart went out to Jimmy when I learned of his diagnosis and his current state of health.

It would be shameful for our city not to honour Santa Jimmy, Hamilton's ambassador of goodwill for 52 years, with his name on a public school, a pediatric ward where he has brought gifts for Christmas or a stadium.

I hope he receives a special honour now, while he is still alive.
 

scotto

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Honour Lomax, not money

Pat Saunders
The Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton
(Jun 24, 2010)
Re: 'Hamilton should honour Jimmy Lomax on school, stadium or hospital' (Letters, June 16)

That Jimmy Lomax should be recognized for his lifetime commitment to children is a given. In another era, naming a school or hospital to honour him would have guaranteed it would be "a permanent mark, etched into the stone of Hamilton's history." Unfortunately, such is not the case now, given recent examples of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board soliciting names for three schools that were being reconstructed and only retaining the original names when opposition to renaming was expressed by the community.

As for naming the children's wing of McMaster hospital as another way to honour Lomax, the letter writer is under the impression that "usually this honour is for financial benefactors." This, too, has not always been the case. A case in point is the naming of the new Mountain hospital in 1954 to honour Nora-Frances Henderson for her lifetime of service.

Naming the Pan Am stadium would most likely be for financial consideration. So naming it the Jimmy Lomax Centre, as the writer proposed, would be a wonderful way for city councillors to demonstrate they do value a lifetime of service to the community over the almighty dollar.
 
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