Rosemary Leone is a pretty woman, smart, gracious, stylish and still working at almost 89!! Retiring isn’t in her vocabulary. She works for Richard Alan, Marco’s own Harbor Goldsmith, wherever he needs her, at Richard’s Reef at Marco Walk or in his jewelry shop at Island Plaza. She is also a talented artist and when she is at home, she is generally working on her art, painting with oils or water colors.
Rosemary worked previously for an owner of several Marco Island shops. Andrea Alan, Richard’s wife, was manager of one of the shops and when it was closing, invited Rosemary to join her at Richard’s Reef. The shop was a new enterprise and required a great deal of organization. Rosemary had helped her husband in the business of running a family restaurant and was very helpful in setting up the new store. She has been with the Alans ever since.
Nancy Leone, Rosemary’s daughter, accompanies her mother to Florida every winter where they share a condo. Nancy describes a close and loving relationship with her mother whom she admires and emulates in her own busy life of work and service in the community.
The two women have separate homes inMichigan, Nancy in Fraser, a small eastern suburb of Detroit and her mom in Harrison Township on the water near Lake St. Clair. Rosemary concentrates on her art when she is home in Michigan and has some amazing shell sculptures among her collection of art.
She was a member of the Marco Island Shell Club in past years and learned the art of shell design. She has created shell masks, one in a Mardi Gras style with a small carry handle all in shells. Another shell mask portrays a woman’s full face depicting facial shadows and color to enhance the features all done with shells. Her designs were exhibited several years ago at Shell Club shows.
Art came late into Rosemary’s life. She had always been creative but had no formal training. She enrolled in Macomb Community College in Michigan about ten years ago, taking courses in art, sculpture and portrait painting with a model. Rosemary convinced her daughter, Nancy, to pose for the class and the two women enjoyed a wonderful learning experience together.
Rosemary’s Florida home is filled with her art. She works in many forms, water colors, oils, portraits, still life, beautiful, original centerpieces created from natural materials including a simplepiece of driftwood adorned with shell flowers. Many of the pieces on display have won Blue Ribbons. She has designed notes and cards from a paper which she created herself and ornamented with beautiful floral, nautical and delicate art. Her paintings fill her home and she revealed there is so much more in her Michigan home.
How did this vibrant, talented woman find Marco Island and choose to make her second home here? Rosemary and Joseph Leone came to Marco Island 30 years ago when one of the only building, on the island was the Voyager Restaurant. They received a post card from Deltona Corporation inviting them to make a weekend visit to Marco. They flew in a small plane which landed on the original landing strip on Collier Boulevard in front of the present location of the Marriott Resort.
A Deltona representative showed them property available on the future Island Country Club and they pushed a pin into a wall map to make their selection. The couple sold the lot because they were not ready to give up their restaurant in Michigan and retire to Florida. They purchased a condo at the Inn Villas as an investment, sold again and invested inthe new South Seas development. They rented South Seas for several years before deciding it was at last time to retire.
One day after moving to Marco Island, Rosemary was shopping in an attractive store, one of many owned by a businesswoman on the island, and decided to ask for a job. She was hired at once and moved among the owner’s several shops including The White Dolphin, The Leather Works in Town Center, Marco Mart, The Lady and The Man, which was located where Royal Palm Bank is now.
Her husband, Joe, discovered he was NOT ready for retirement either and got a job at McDonald’s greeting patrons and pouring coffee. Joe cut a wedge in the local McDonald’s profits with his generous refilling of coffee cups all around!
Rosemary and Joe made many new friends and enjoyed a busy social life. Stan’s was one of their favorite watering holes. They particularly enjoyed The Gong Show, a game borrowed from TV, which was regularly and noisily played by patrons of Stan’s on the second floor of the restaurant. In those days Stan’s patrons brought their own lawn chairs with them to be assured of a seat!
Recently, Richard and Andrea Alan celebrated a GrandOpening at their new location in Island Plaza. Rosemary, who generally works at Richard’s Reef, assisted with the event and renewed old acquaintances among the patrons and staff of the shop. Richard explained.” I learned more from Rosemary in the first few months she worked for us than I taught her. She helped set up Richard’s Reef, had great ideas about layout of the merchandise and recommended installing mirrors in several strategic locations. She is a very good salesperson and has a great eye for style and color and can help the customers make selections that are right for them. Her ideas about operating a retail business are very practical and she has been invaluable to us. Rosemary is an extraordinary lady and we are so glad to have her with us as long as she wants to work.”
Nancy Leone, also a busy woman, works at Marco Island Academy while on the island. She is happy she made the decision to retire early from the Avondale School District in Michigan because it gives her this time with her mother. “I am so blessed to have had such wonderful parents. My father died seven years ago and my mother and I havegrown even closer. I want to enjoy her company while she is in good health. We have become good roommates, soul mates, cooking mates. We just have been having a ball!”
Rosemary has often told Nancy. “You make my life worth living. You support me and tell me I can do this and you’re the reason I can do what I do.” Rosemary believes working and staying active is “what keeps the mind sharp. To challenge the mind is to keep it healthy.”
Rosemary is writing a book about her life from childhood to the present. She is writing the book as a form of therapy since her husband died. She wants to tell the story about how a young couple worked together for decades building a successful partnership in their restaurant and shared a long and happy life together. She did share one little secret about how she handled any disagreements that came up. “When my grandchildren were younger they asked. “Grandma, why is Grandpa’s picture down on the table?” Her reply was. “Because, I don’t like him today!” What a wonderful alternative to angry words.
Rosemary will be 89 on May 13. She is still too busy to retire and we wish her many more years of active life and very good health.