Amid five decades of change, Ginny Stine Romano and R. Ward Lariscy have managed to maintain an abiding friendship. Living and working in close proximity, shopping and socializing in the same circles, and even traveling together, sometimes to one or two states, and sometimes abroad. These two friends have lived side by side for 50 years.
They met as neighbors when they purchased homes at the same time in San Marco—Romano, a Jacksonville native, on Largo Road and Lariscy, of Savannah, Georgia, on Balis Place. They still reside in the same houses, just three doors apart.
Romano and Lariscy’s careers are what took them beyond neighbors to becoming friends. Both professional interior decorators, Romano offered to introduce Lariscy to the city’s resources when he was new in town. Their decoration takes different directions, and they have never been competitors. In fact, they are strong supporters of each other’s work, even sharing samples from their libraries. Although for years their businesses co-existed on San Marco Boulevard, just four blocks away, they each retained their own clientele. “That’s why we could still be friends,” Lariscy said as they both laughed.
“When you’re an interior designer, that’s pretty much what you do, and it’s all about that,” Romano said. Thus, much of the activities of her and Lariscy are associated with their careers. Both specialists, they attend the same design events and conferences. Recently, they went together to an awards banquet for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), a professional society.
Romano and Lariscy are collectors. Luckily, they have different passions so they can search for items for each other when they’re not searching together. They travel to Atlanta regularly to visit Scott’s Antique Markets. “We alert each other to interesting things,” Romano said. She collects Black Forest memorabilia for her mountain home in North Carolina, items like carved wooden bears and Bavarian trinkets. Lariscy traveled several times to visit Romano and her husband. For her Florida home, she has an eye for Limoges porcelain and Battersea boxes. Lariscy is looking for Parian, a rare white marble. He collects it for his personal use and for design projects. Lariscy said, “That way we stay friends because if we collect the same things –” Romano finished Lariscy’s sentence, “Then we would fight for them.”
They are both creative in other ways. In addition to his business on San Marco Boulevard, Lariscy has a gift shop on San Marco Square, The Wardroom Ltd. He handcrafts greeting cards to sell there among a host of other novelties. And he also has a line of pin cushions, which Romano makes from antique teacups.
Not only are they neighbors and friends, professionals without being competitors, but Romano and Lariscy are both exemplary residents. They often worked together for the good of the community, attending zoning meetings and keeping their respective homes and yards in good repair. “It invites other people to come to the neighborhood because they want to be part of something great,” Romano said. She and Lariscy volunteer to offer paint coloring advice to homeowners and businesses. If it impacts San Marco, they’re involved.
Giving to local nonprofits is another value that these two friends share. Over the years, they have donated their time and talents to San Marco’s theater, Theater Jacksonville; Romano designed the lobby and Lariscy decorated the stage sets. Both have long supported the efforts of the San Marco Preservation Society. In fact, Romano had served on the board for a decade. They each chaired the annual vacation home tour. Both participated in Luminaria, and they each cooked different dishes for the Twelfth Night parties. Romano and Lariscy attend many of the same fundraising social events, such as the annual Wolfson’s Arts & Antiques Show.
When asked if they disagree on anything, given what they share, Romano replied, “We have enough in common that we don’t have to dig anything up. something that could be an unpleasant topic.” Lariscy confirmed, “We’re not talking about politics.”
Of his lifelong friendship with Lariscy, Romano said, “It lasts, no matter what has happened with time, business, neighborhood changes – and there have been many.”
By Mary Wander
Resident Community News