Rosemary Elizabeth Gambino passed away comfortably in her bed, surrounded by loved ones, after a nearly two-year battle with small cell lung cancer. She was 70.
Rosemary was born in Middletown, N.Y., to Margery Horton Gambino and Charles Gambino on Jan. 17, 1951. She attended our Lady of Mount Carmel in her early years, and grew up working in her family’s restaurant.
She excelled as a nurse’s aide at Doctors Sunnyside Hospital in Port Jervis, N.Y., and after having her first and only child, she went to cosmetology school, with the dream of one day owning her own salon. In 1978, Rosemary moved to the island with her friend and son, and in 1980 she opened Rosecuts Hair Salon. She grew Rosecuts to become Martha’s Vineyard’s longest-standing beauty salon, all while raising a child.
In 2016, Rosemary also opened Found It! Antiques and Collectables. This was a dream in her later years, and was a passion project meant to occupy her through retirement.
In her more than 40 years in business, she touched the lives of nearly every Island family, be it through her salon, antique collecting and trading, or her work with shut-ins and hospice patients, about which she was always quite secretive. One could also occasionally spot her chauffeuring wedding couples in her beloved 1946 DeSoto Custom that her father rebuilt in the ’80s.
In addition to her many professional interests, Rosemary was an incredible gardener and orchid expert. She frequently took in sick or dying orchids and brought them back to life. Her plant expertise was only barely overshadowed by her incredible knowledge of classic movies and mid-century pop culture. For these, and for many other reasons, she was a wealth of knowledge, and will be sorely missed. She will be remembered by all as an extremely hard-working, passionate, compassionate, and trustworthy confidant.
Rosemary is survived by her son, Seth Gambino of Tisbury; her mother, Margery Gambino of Tisbury; and her brother, Charles Gambino Jr. of Wurtsboro, N.Y.
A celebration of Rosemary’s life will be held at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall on Sept. 12, from 2 to 6 pm. All are welcome, but masks are mandatory — no exceptions.