Harrison County

Diminutive Rosetti was 'large and in charge' when it came to family

Margaret 'Margi' Rosetti in a photo from about 1940.
Margaret 'Margi' Rosetti in a photo from about 1940.

Margaret Puzz Rosetti barely stretched to 5 feet and only hit 100 pounds soaking wet, but the tiny woman was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her family.

"Even though her stature was small, she was large and in charge," said her daughter-in-law Laura Quave Rosetti.

Margi Rosetti died May 15 at the age of 95.

She was born at home on Chartres Street in the Biloxi neighborhood remembered as Back Bay, to a Slavonian father and a Spanish mother.

She was reared in a Catholic home and attended parochial school. One of the only paying jobs she ever had was working for her father at Andrew Puzz's Avenue Bakery.

One true love

Her life changed one night at Wachenfeld Pier when she met her one true love.

The pier exists now only in old black-and-white photos of Biloxi, but in the late 1930s "it was the cool place to be," Laura Rosetti said. "She made it sound like the coolest place ever."

She and Tony Rosetti danced on Friday nights under twinkly lights to the sounds of a big orchestra. There were fireworks in the sky -- and between the two young Biloxians.

They courted a while and married in 1939. He was 20, just a year older than his bride.

She settled in as a wife and then as a mother as the tiny woman gave birth to the first of five babies who'd grow to tower over her by nearly a foot.

Family was everything to her. Her life's work became taking care of her husband and children.

She lost her Tony when she was 54. He died of a heart attack while out shrimping for the annual Blessing of the Fleet's Fais Do-Do.

Their youngest was just 11 years old.

Watching family grow

Years later, she'd tell her daughter-in-law she prayed baby Bryan would graduate high school. When he did, she prayed he would graduate college, then marry and settle down.

"She got to see all of that," Laura Rosetti said. "She even got to see his kids grow up and go to high school and college (which was) something she never dreamed."

Laura Rosetti said her mother-in-law was part of the greatest generation and a great example to her family. "They had that can-do spirit," she said. "There was no backing down for people of that generation. If something happened, they accepted it, did the best they could and went on."

Rosetti never remarried.

"I'm certain that suitors made themselves known, but she used to say, 'When you had the love of your life, what more can you ask for?'" Laura Rosetti said.

She loved being 'Grandma'

Though her husband called her "Margi" with a hard G, her favorite nickname was "Grandma."

She insisted the first grandchild call her that and it trickled down from there.

"She was adamant about that," Laura Rosetti said. "She didn't like any of the newfangled 'MawMaw,' 'MeeMee' or all those new names they used. She liked 'Grandma.' She said that's what she called her grandma and that's what she wanted her grandkids to call her."

After she got the first one trained, the other eight picked it up, as did the 14 great-grandchildren and most of the five great-great-grandchildren.

Laura Rosetti said her mother-in-law lived a full life of joy and happiness, watching her family grow and prosper.

But she knew pain, too.

She buried two of her children -- Tony Jr. in 2012 and Jeanie, whom she'd lived with after losing her home to Hurricane Katrina, a year later.

"That's when I knew what heartache could do, when I watched her grieve the loss of her son and the loss of her daughter," Laura Rosetti said.

Food was love for Margi Rosetti and it was rare when visitors to her home didn't find the smells of fresh-baked pastries wafting from her kitchen.

She was famous for her chicken and dumplings, but just as well loved for her chicken spaghetti, pot roast with homemade gravy over mashed potatoes and strawberry shortcake.

Laura Rosetti compiled all of her mother-in-law's recipes and printed copies for the family.

She summed up the woman best in her obituary when she wrote, "Margaret had the grace and dignity that defines the word 'lady.' She will be missed and her memory cherished by all that knew and loved her."