I met Jean Loretto when I was 20 years old.
I got a job as secretary to Ms. Rosselli at the Cotton Council in the Empire State Building. It was fashion-oriented and fun. Jean became my immediate supervisor. Again, it was Kismet. We got along famously. She was approximately 25 years older and had an insatiable appetite for everything different than herself.
In addition to working at the Council, Jean flipped houses on the Upper Westside. I learned that flipping houses were how she made “real money.”
I saw my first opera, “Carmen,” and my first Broadway show, “Man of La Mancha,” due to Jean’s generosity. Ironically years later, I met someone in the Broadway show I saw, and we married, but that’s another story.
We were friends for years, and then she met Stanley. I was so happy for her. Stanley was a realtor. They bought the property in Nevis (Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace) and started to build a home.
In the process of building in Nevis, Stanley died. It was shocking and painful, but Jean marched on. She called me and said, “We’ve talked about Cuba so much. Stanley is taking us there. I don’t speak Spanish, so I need you”. Off we went to Cuba. We were careful not to have our passports stamped because of the embargo. Cuba and Jean changed my life in so many ways. She was that angel GOD places in your path. You just don’t know it
Among the last things she said to me was that she wanted to leave me a gift but knew her family would give her such a hard time and fight it. So she tried to figure out what to do. And she certainly did.
When my daughter applied to college, she insisted on giving me her gift while alive. She paid for four years of Wesleyan with room and board. But she always said, “what’s the point of having something if you don’t share it.” And share it she did.
My daughter graduated from Wesleyan in 1999, went on to NYU, and is a Wesleyan Board member today. Jean’s legacy of generosity lives on in her and our family.
So, you see, friends do the most extraordinary things. I will always be Jean’s Dear Heart, and she will always be mine.
Shared by Carmen Matias