Marco Island is a little quieter this week without the voice of Marion Blomeier. The local legend, entertainer and philanthropist passed away on Sept. 16 at the age of 87. She was known as Lady Christmas by many but most importantly she was known as a friend to Marco Island and people from throughout the world. In the wake of her death, friends stop to remember all of the things that made Blomeier so dear to them.
The Olde Marco Inn
When Rachel Klein moved to Marco in 1968, Blomeier was her neighbor and became and instant friend. In 1969 Blomeier opened the Olde Marco Inn with her husband Wilhelm. The couple had come to Marco Island on vacation in the mid-1960s. They were taking a break from their five restaurants in Maine and decided to buy the Inn and relocate.
“We all hung out there,” Klein said. “It was a wonderful place to unload and throughly enjoy life. Marion made life so enjoyable to us by entertaining us.”
Having originally come from Germany, Blomeier added her flair for German cooking to the Inn and she also sang a repertoire of German songs when she entertained at her piano bar.
“She sang at the piano bar every time anyone wanted her to sing and she had this voice that came out of a movie,” said Craig Woodward, Blomeier’s attorney and long-time friend. “They had a major following and every night it was the place to be and to go.”
For the ballroom, Blomeier purchased a chandelier that had belonged to Guy Lombardo, the leader of the world-famous Lombardo Orchestra.
“She bought it when some of his belongings were auctioned off and it was shipped to her,” said Marion Nicolay. “It is a beautiful chandelier of cranberry glass and a crystal pattern with two kinds of droplets. It’s like a national treasure.”
The enormous chandelier was hung in the ballroom, christening guests with it’s charming light and setting the atmosphere for Blomeier’s many social events.
“When anyone asks Rachel and Jerry (Gerolamo) what we contribute to our longevity at 90 and 97, it’s because of the Inn crowd,” said Klein.
Klein said when Blomeier sold the Inn, they followed her to her new restaurant, The Inn Crowd. When she sold that they followed her to The Deck.
“We loved her,” Klein said. “She was a terrific entertainer with her singing and her jokes. She was beautiful.”
Blomeier still had fans following her up until her death. She often made guest appearances at Erin’s Isle with her long-time friend and piano player Bobby Gideons.
Author Betsy Perdichizzi includes a chapter on Blomeier in her book “Island Voices.”
“She was an actress in Germany,” Perdichizzi said. “She told me that it was raining one time and she went in to a restaurant, and that is how she met her husband; he owned it. Then she married him.”
The Blomeiers left Germany after World War II to open restaurants in New York and then in Ogunquit, Main. At the time when they came to Marco Island on vacation, the island was just being developed. After operating the business together for many years, Marion Blomeier continued to successfully run the business after her husband passed away in 1981. She finally sold the restaurant in 2003.
“After her husband died, she rose to the challenge and was obviously a strong-willed woman and quite capable as a business woman,” Woodward said. “I’ve known her for many, many, years and handled her husband’s estates and the business. I’ve known her since I was young; she told everyone she knew me since I was waist high.”
All of her friends agree that before Blomeier, there wasn’t much Christmas on Marco Island.
“We came in 1989 and people didn’t really decorate, it’s hard to imagine” Perdichizzi said. “Marion Blomeier decorated the Inn early on. Christmas was very special to her because she remembered the Christmases in Germany.”
Blomeier hosted a Christmas Eve and a New Year’s Eve dinner at the Inn. Many remember the hundreds of bears that she had placed throughout the Inn.
“She had an incredible collection of teddy bears, every kind you could think of,” Nicolay said. “She had them on the chairs, the newel post, hanging from the chandeliers.”
After holding her own celebrations for years, Blomeier decided to help the town begin a celebration for everyone.
“She was Lady Christmas,” Nicolay said. “She was instrumental in bringing the first town Christmas tree and getting it decorated and lighted.”
As a long-time supporter of the historical society, Blomeier got all of the women in on Christmas.
“She used to ride in the parade and the last tim I remember the historical society commandeered five red convertibles,” Nicolay said. “Her convertible said Lady Christmas and she had this huge, enormous bouquet of roses. She said she was leading the parade and I guess she did.”
A Local Legend
Blomeier will be long remembered for her sultry voice, entertaining spirit and love of life. In her absence she leaves not only a beautiful memory, but a long list of philanthropic causes that will continue their work.
“She was just a generous person,” Klein said. “She was always auctioning off her rings and giving away money.”
“She raised money for the YMCA, for cancer, Santa’s helper, any good cause,” Perdichizzi said. “She often would just take the diamonds off her fingers and raffle them for the cause. She was very generous when it came to the community.”
For years Blomeier helped Klein raise money for orthoptics. Klein has had an endowment fund at Duke University since 1988. She says the fund should really be named for Marion Blomeier because of all the work she has done to raise money throughout the years. Even in death, the sales from Blomeier’s CDs contribute to Klein’s fund.
“What I’ve done, I could not have done without my Marion,” Klein said. “She went out of life, the way that she came in. The day that she fell I told her ‘This is a lovely day that God created and we are going to enjoy it.’ ”
The friends went shopping and Blomeier chose a beautiful scarf. Klein says she plans to have it made into a teddy bear so she can hug it and think of her friend.
After her Blomeier’s fall in her home she was hospitalized and later died on Friday, Sept. 16. A memorial service is being planned for October when friends say more people will be on the island.
“She was a unique character and she is going to be very missed on this island,” Nicolay said. “Every island needs a legend, she was our legend.”