Local Folks: Friends, Ginny and Ward

Local Folks: Friends, Ginny and Ward
Ward Lariscy and Ginny Stine Romano

Amid five decades of change, Ginny Stine Romano and R. Ward Lariscy have managed to maintain a consistent friendship. Living and working close by, shopping and socializing in the same circles, and even traveling together—sometimes a state or two away, and sometimes abroad. These two friends have been doing life side by side for the past 50 years.

They met as neighbors when they had bought houses at the same time in San Marco—Romano, a Jacksonville native, on Largo Road and Lariscy, from Savannah, Georgia, on Balis Place. They still reside in the same houses, only three doors apart.

The careers of Romano and Lariscy are what led them beyond neighbors to becoming friends. Both professional interior designers, Romano offered to introduce Lariscy to the city’s resources when he was new in town. Their decorating takes different directions, and they have never been competitors. In fact, they are staunch supporters of each other’s work, even sharing samples from their libraries. Though for years their businesses have coexisted on San Marco Boulevard, only four blocks apart, they’ve each maintained their own clientele. “That’s why we could stay friends,” Lariscy said as they both giggled.

“When you’re an interior designer, that pretty much is what you do, and everything revolves around that,” Romano said. So, much of her and Lariscy’s activities 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 that they can search for items for each other when they’re not searching together. They journey to Atlanta regularly to Scott Antique Markets. “We alert each other to interesting things,” Romano said. She collects black forest memorabilia for her North Carolina mountain house, items like wood-carved bears and Bavarian trinkets. Lariscy has traveled several times to visit Romano and her husband there. For her Florida home, she has an eye for Limoges porcelain and Battersea boxes. Lariscy searches for Parian, a scarce white marble. He collects it for personal use and for design projects. Lariscy said, “That way we stay friendly because if we collected the same things—” Romano finished Lariscy’s sentence, “Then we’d be fighting over them.”

Ward Lariscy and Ginny Stine Romano, London Taxi, January 1985
Ward Lariscy and Ginny Stine Romano, London Taxi, January 1985

They’re both creative in other ways, too. In addition to his business on San Marco Boulevard, Lariscy owns a gift shop in San Marco Square, The Wardroom Ltd. He handmakes greeting cards to sell there among a host of other novelties. And he carries a line of pin cushions, too, which Romano fashions from antique teacups.

Not only are they neighbors and friends, professionals without being competitors, but also Romano and Lariscy are both exemplary residents. They have 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 that’s quality,” said Romano. She and Lariscy both volunteer in offering paint coloring advice to homeowners and businesses. If it impacts San Marco, they are involved.

Giving to local nonprofits is another value these two friends share. Over the years, they have donated their time and talents to San Marco’s playhouse, Theatre Jacksonville; Romano designed the lobby, and Lariscy decorated stage sets. Both are long-time supporters of the efforts of the San Marco Preservation Society. In fact, Romano had served on the Board for a decade. They’ve each chaired the annual Holiday Tour of Homes. Both have been participators in Luminaria, and they each cooked different dishes for Twelfth Night parties. Romano and Lariscy attend many of the same fundraising social events, like the annual Wolfson’s Arts & Antiques Show.

When asked if they disagree on anything, considering how much they share, Romano said, “We have enough in common that we don’t have to dredge up something that could be a disagreeable subject.” Lariscy confirmed, “We don’t talk politics.”

Of her long-time friendship with Lariscy, Romano said, “It’s enduring, no matter what has happened with time, with business, with neighborhood changes—and there have been many.”

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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