Pasqualine (Lena) Katherine Marotti was born July 7, 1922, to Nellie and Edward Marotti, in Vanderbilt, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Vanderbilt along with her sister, Rita and brother John. Her father and her Uncle Lewis ran a grocery store/mercantile in the town and the family lived above the store. It was an idyllic life growing up in a small town with lots of relatives from both sides of the family. Summers were spent up in their cabin on Whipkey Dam.
Lena graduated from Dunbar Township HS, then went on to Grace Martin Secretarial School in Pittsburgh. After she finished secretarial school, she moved to Florida in 1943 working as a bookkeeper at Polk Packing Company in Eloise.
After moving to Winter Haven, Lena met Phil Gutierrez, who was training at the Bartow Air Base flight school. They dated and Phil went off to fly P51’s in the war in the Pacific. He named his airplane Dearest Lee after mom and was blessed to come home from the war in 1945. They got married in Winter Haven, Florida on November 12,1946. Lena’s wedding dress made from the silk of Phil’s parachute.
Lena and Phil had four girls, Kathy, Rita, Janet, and Nancy. Lena stayed home and raised her four girls, then began working as secretary bookkeeper at the Quality Electric Company business for her brother, John and Phil. After Phil passed away in 1979, she and John continued to run the business until they retired.
One summer, Phil asked Lena if it would be okay if his nephew stayed with them for the summer. She said sure, one more kid to feed would be fine. Having only girls, little did she realize how much growing teenage boys ate but she soon found out! It became a running joke when there was any food left, she’d say FINISH IT TONY! That is a phase we still use to this day!
One of the people she knew from Vanderbilt, Mildred Freed Hrezo also moved down to Winter Haven and was a neighbor down the street. Growing up the two families were pretty much intertwined. Mildred and Lena used to walk every morning, certainly discussing and solving the world’s problems. Because so many from Pennsylvania came to Florida to either make it their home or just stay for the winter, they hatched the bright idea to have a reunion of the all the Fayette County, Pennsylvania residents in the area. It was a huge success and became an annual event for 25 years. Lena loved to plan and execute that reunion, family reunions, birthdays, and holidays hence the nickname General Lee.
Lena is a lifetime member of the American Legion Auxiliary. She was a member of Saint Joseph’s Ladies Guild and Saint Joseph’s church gift shop for 49 years. She also volunteered at Winter Haven Hospital working in their gift shop and often said she was always the “best customer” of both places. One of her other passions was reading. We all have fond memories of going to the Winter Haven Public Library each week to browse the shelves and check out books to read. Another volunteer job was working at the Friends of the Library used bookstore when the new library was built.
Lena is preceded in death by her husband Phil Gutierrez, parents Ed and Nellie Marotti, sister Dr Rita Marotti Keramidas, and brother John Marotti. She is survived by her daughters Kathy (Milbourne) Cassady, Rita Gutierrez (Bob) Kane, Janet Shetler, and Nancy Gutierrez. Lena has three grandchildren, Joseph (Stephanie) Cassady, Heather Shetler (Travis) Esposito and Michael (Caitlin) Shetler. Seven great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild, as well as numerous 5th daughters and you all know who you are.
A reception will follow the service in room 2 at St Joseph Church.
In Lieu if flowers donations can be made to: Friends of the Library, Winter Haven https://www.mywinterhaven.com/library/give/fol/
St Joseph Church, Winter Haven https://www.wesharegiving.org/app/giving/WeShare-1584?tab=home
Good Shephard Hospice Chapters Health https://www.chaptershealth.org/for-volunteers-donors/personal-giving/