Key West lost another of its treasured Grande Dames on April 20, 2024….The lovely Mary Ann Worth,  passed away at age 97,  in her historic home, Casa Antigua. The late Colorful Cmmish,  Tom Oosterhoudt, was the son of Mary Ann.  Had he been alive today, no doubt he would have devoted an entire issue of his famous CONCH COLOR publication, to honor his beloved Mother.  When Tom was still with us he often wrote about and featured ‘THE LADIES IN THEIR 80’s, which included, if you recall, Edith Amsterdam, Nancy Robinson, Jean Olson, Anne McKee, Kitty Green, *Vera Schiff, and Mary Ann Worth.  All were beautiful, generous and caring ladies who left huge footprints on all our hearts and lives.   Sadly, we have lost all of these amazing Ladies except for the wonderful Vera Schiff who, at 97, resides in CA but thankfully, visits Key West often.  Glowing tributes to honor each of these ladies have appeared in various publications in Key West, but somehow, Mary Ann’s passing flew under the radar.  As a long-time friend and admirer I will try my utmost, to share some of my cherished memories of the very special Mary Ann Worth.

Mary Ann was born in Jacksonville, on Feb. 14, 1927, Valentine’s Day, a fitting day for this Lady with her great big heart, to enter this world.  She would celebrate her birthday with son Tom, at Square One Restaurant usually wearing her favorite color, purple.  She owned the Casa Antigua on Simonton St., and you could find her every day in the delightful and whimsical shop she owned, The Pelican Poop.  I would stop in often, and she always made me feel as if there was no one else she would rather see.  I will always remember her weekly group of Sunday Breakfast Friends who would gather at Azur around noon.  No doubt she was a raving beauty in her youth as she was a stunning woman, possessing a flawless complexion, dancing eyes and she carried herself with dignity and grace.

Who in Key West will forget the spectacular Holiday Parties she hosted at The Casa Antigua with son Tom every December?   Everyone in town was invited to an evening of great festivity…..a delicious catered cuisine, superb entertainment, and first class hospitality.  Ever the perfect hostess, Mary Ann always made certain she was situated at the front door, to welcome every single guest personally.  She was very thoughtful, and we always looked forward to her Christmas and Birthday cards each year.

At one time The Casa operated as a hotel, and author Ernest Hemingway actually stayed there, finishing his book, ‘A Farewell to Arms.’  Subsequently, during the July Hemingway Days in Key West, Mary Ann graciously opened her home for the annual Lorian Hemingway Short Story Contest.  Through the years, she welcomed countless famous dignitaries and luminaries and they often stayed as guests where they were given the “Mary Ann Worth Royal Treatment.”

Mary Ann was a giving benefactor and contributor to the Arts and every ‘Worth’ While cause in Key West…the Waterfront Playhouse, the Symphony, Red Barn, the Basilica of St. Mary… the list of non-profits she supported goes on and on.

During these last few years Mary Ann dealt with some serious health issues and her mobility prevented her from getting around as before. Her presence at events in Key West has been greatly missed.  Mary Ann was buried in Jacksonville, FL on April 27 leaving behind family members and her legions of friends in Key West who were blessed to know her.  Please reflect on your own unique and special memories and know that her kind and generous spirit will live on in Key West forever.  Mary Ann Worth….To know her was to love her!

Lynda Frechette…… 305-393-6273

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