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Longtime island resident remembered for her smile

By Staff | Mar 19, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Shirlene Grasgreen

A longtime resident of Sanibel, known for her smile, passed away earlier this month.

Shirlene Grasgreen, 91, died on March 6. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Grasgreen married her husband, Marty, in 1949 and their family began visiting Sanibel in 1969.

“It was unexpected, she was 91, but I thought I would have a few more years,” Ira, her son, said.

He said they came across Sanibel before any condos were built. His first memory was staying at a hotel, called the Gallery, on the east end of the island with his folks.

“I remember we flew into Miami and took a long drive across and got in very late at night,” he said.

Once they arrived they saw tons of cockroaches crawling around, which led them to sleep in their clothes, and saying they were leaving the next day.

“We woke up to the beach and the sun and never left,” he said.

Ten years later the family moved from East Brunswick, New Jersey, to Sanibel.

Grasgreen worked for the Island Reporter for more than 30 years as a front desk and office, circulation manager. A job she enjoyed, due to having the chance to talk with many islanders, as she processed subscriptions and presented the popular Ikki Matsumoto posters.

He said she worked for the reporter for 31 years before retiring in 2012.

“My mom working at the paper, knew everybody. She always had this wonderful smile and greeted people,” he said.

In addition to working at the paper, Grasgreen also had a love of reading, and for the past 10 years traveled. He said they took some wonderful trips to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon, as well as visiting botanical gardens, one of which was in Naples.

“I’m an avid gardener and sell plants for a living,” he said, adding that his mother loved exotic plants and she loved nature.

The sunflower, although, was her absolute favorite flower.

“Anytime people would come and visit they would bring her sunflowers and tulips,” he said.

Although all of those are memories he will cherish, her smile, always smiling, is something he will always associate with his mother.

A Celebration of Life will be held in early December. Memorial gifts may be made in her name to F.I.S.H of Sanibel-Captiva, at 2430-B Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957, or Rutgers Gardens, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of NJ, 112 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.