PALMYRA, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - The Palmyra community is mourning the loss of a woman many called Mrs. Claus because of all she gave.
She was killed in a fire over the weekend and her neighbors are trying to return the love she has been handing out for years.
"It was such a wonderful day," said Mike Dube as he remembers the first weekend in June. Dube has lived in Palmyra for decades with his wife Tracey and was struck with tragedy this weekend as his garage caught fire.
"I'm out of my mind. I'm out of my mind," said Dube. Tracey was trapped in the fire and later died the following morning. Trace and Mike had been married for 43 years. Carolyn Bean, a neighbor from down the road, has been a friend for 35 of those years.
"I can see that she was trying to save the Harleys," said Bean. "And that's the kind of person Tracey was." The bikes were a symbol of their generosity, especially around Christmas.
"My wife said why don't we make up some stockings. when you see kids. so they started calling us drive by Santa."
That was 14 years ago. It was Mike on the bike, but Tracey who put together each gift bag.
"When Michael went, he could be organized when he gave out the presents. She was like a secret partner," said Bean. The Salvation Army in Canandaigua was one of many stops all over the area.
"We would organize the kids to come and meet with him and he would hand them Christmas presents," said Captain James Brennan for the Salvation Army. "He would really make their day, bring smiles to all their faces." This week it is the community that is giving to him.
"Everybody's making us food, every night. Cookies; other people are helping with the funeral arrangements," said Michael. Neighbors are also helping clean the house. To Michael, it is a testament to all that she gave.
"I could get you 200 people that could tell you that my wife was an absolute angel," said Michael.
When it comes to delivering presents to children around Christmas this year, it will be a no brainer. "My wife wouldn't want it any other way. We will. We will."
They receive donations from all across the country for their Christmas cruise and this year so far has been no different. We will continue to follow Michael as he prepares for his 15th year as a drive by Santa.
As of now there is still an ongoing investigation by the Wayne County Sheriffs Office into how the fire was initially started.
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