Kenosha Christmas Tree Heartwarming Story

Cornelius and his late wife bought the tree over 50 years ago, now it's part of Kenosha tradition

By Jeffrey Zampan

TMJ4 News, For

KENOSHA, Wis. — The holidays have become a difficult time of the year for Kenosha’s Cornelius Smaxwill.

 After losing his wife Frances just over a year ago, life has never been the same.

“Every day is emotional when you lose a wife, partner, whatever, it’s very hard,” Smaxwill said.

Smaxwill and his wife planted a four-foot Colorado Blue Spruce at their southside residence shortly before they were married over 50 years ago.

“We bought it from a nursery that was closing,” Smaxwill said. “They were shutting down and we went the last day the business was open and we bought it for $9.”

The tree has since grown nearly 50 feet. When a City of Kenosha employee spotted the spectacular blue spruce, he approached Smaxwill about donating it for the city’s downtown Christmas tree.

“I said I’d be more than happy to,” Smaxwill said.

On Thursday, city employees trimmed, cut, transported, and mounted the tree in front of the Kenosha Public Museum.

It was an emotional moment for the 86-year-old Smaxwill. As he admired the tree that was in his front yard for decades, there was only one thing missing.

“I wish (Frances) was here to see it,” Smaxwill said. “She would say it’s the most beautiful Christmas tree she’s ever seen.”

The city’s annual Lightin’ Up celebration takes place Friday, Nov. 24 at the Kenosha Public Museum. The tree will be equipped with 1,200 colored bulbs and illuminated throughout the holiday season.