May 13, 2005
Every Memorial Day, Rosemary Stratioti
makes things happen
By Dick Palmer
Looking at Duluth’s past and present leadership
saga, my story dated April 29, 1997, began with: “The little
girl, with a curl, grew up in the worst of times and the best of
times. Her background, in a perceived tough West Duluth neighborhood,
gave her the positive tools to look ahead with confidence and demonstrate,
with action, a sincere goal to serve unselfishly. Her record speaks
Rosemary Ann Tuzinski Stratioti was born on Dec.
26, 1930, with the assistance of a midwife, in the Anna and Leo
Tuzinski family home on 54th Avenue West and Nicollet Street. Today,
the Stora Enso Duluth paper mill has replaced that humble but proud
neighborhood setting. Rosemary attended Irving Elementary, West
Junior and Denfeld Senior High School, graduating in 1948.
Many of the kids attending Irving came from the
perceived tough Raleigh Street neighborhoods. In those days, Raleigh
Street was primarily composed of first and second generation Italians,
and they had some of the strongest family values in America. That’s
what made Raleigh Street so unique. The neighbors were close knit,
took care of one another and intruders got the message . . . or
Rosemary was probably considered a “tomboy”
during her growing years, and she held her own with the kids, boys
and girls alike. She played baseball, run sheep run, tin can alley
and volleyball (in the street with the horizontal black tar strip
replacing an imaginary net). She remembers well roasting potatoes
in the coals of an open fire, usually built in the nearby junkyard.
Have any of you readers tried that lately? Those potatoes are delicious.
Rosemary was an average girl with no long-range
goals to conflict with the reality of the times. There were no frills
either, only the wealth of companionship and survival techniques,
the necessary tools of the trade. Even at an early age, Rosemary
became active in church and later was the organist at the Good Shepherd
Catholic Church on 57th West and Raleigh Street.
At Denfeld she sang in the choir and worked part-time
at the Doric and West theaters in West Duluth. She did it all, including
working at the candy and popcorn counter.
World War II was over and veterans were coming home, including one
Joe Stratioti who returned to the steel plant. Hershey Bars (the
5 cent size) were still scarce, and Joe’s buddy suggested
that if he were friendly to Rosemary, maybe she would sell him a
Hershey? Joe took the bait and it worked; he got his Hershey and
much more. A seven-year romance began and the couple was married
in 1954. They had five children and 12 grandchildren when Rosemary
was originally featured in the Budgeteer in 1997.
After service on submarines and destroyers in
the Pacific, Joe became active in the West Duluth American Legion
Post and was the commander on two different occasions.
Rosemary shared his Legion enthusiasm and also
served as Auxiliary president twice. Joe passed away in 1986. After
his passing, Rosemary remained active in the Legion and with plenty
of family support took on a serious challenge, the annual Memorial
Day Parade in West Duluth. This year, she will chair this event
for the 45th time. Come rain or snow or wind or sun, Rosemary always
stands tall at this remarkable community event.
Rosemary is one of those community leaders who
works diligently behind the scenes to get things done. There were
years when only one unit showed up for the parade, but that didn’t
deter Rosemary. She immediately got started on the planning phase
for the following year. It has been difficult getting Duluth high
school bands involved because of the timing, as the school year
comes to a close. However, that, too, didn’t deter Rosemary,
and she got neighboring school bands to join the parade.
Also, patriotism in America has diminished considerably,
but again, Rosemary continues to lead the charge and her tenacity
has certainly paid off for the thousands who now observe and enjoy
this annual event.
When you visit Oneota Cemetery that day, the flag
display at the Soldier’s Plot will get your attention and
Rosemary has made that her special project.
She has done other things
in this community as well and for unselfish motives. She loves Duluth
and her actions speak louder than words. Rosemary is just one of
the many “silent citizens” who have made things happen
here in Duluth. I thank her for that.