She was the warm and gracious proprietor of Café Mezzaluna Bistro Latino in Saugerties and an ardent supporter of the arts and local business. But it’s her larger-than-life spirit and loving heart that her friends will most remember about Mery Helen Rosado, who died Thursday, Nov. 27 at Albany Medical Center after a brave battle with cancer. She was 62.
“Mery was so vibrant,” says her close friend, Cherie Lee, who manages the café and collaborated with Rosado on many Saugerties-supportive projects. “She was a beautiful person and everybody adored her because of the way she made them feel. She made everybody walk away feeling like her friend. She opened her heart and her spirit, and she was just an amazing, bright, shining person.”
Rosado was born Aug. 5, 1952 in Manhattan, the daughter of the late Marcial and Maria Fuentes Rosado. She first came to the Saugerties area as a regular summer visitor, becoming a permanent resident 12 years ago. She operated The Village Inn, popular with the visitors who come for the annual horse shows, and opened Café Mezzaluna in 2006, building a successful business at a location that was empty for a decade before she moved in. With a casual and eclectic menu influenced by her Puerto Rican heritage, Rosado fostered a comfortable and inviting atmosphere in the space.
She embraced the arts there, instigating events like the monthly Writers Nights for poets. She brought in local musicians on Sunday mornings to provide live music for brunch. She supported the artists of the annual Studio Tour, inviting each to hang a work at the café after the tour and then opening up the restaurant for them to have dinner together. And the rest of the year, the walls of Café Mezzaluna served as rotating gallery space for the work of local artists like Raymond J. Steiner.
“It was hard not to like Mery,” he says. “She was open, amiable, accepting, always welcoming as you entered her ‘Mezzaluna,’ displaying a joie d’vivre that was infectious and heart-warming. I don’t remember when it was I first came to her Café Bistro Latino, but once was enough to hook me for evermore.”
To the community at large, he adds, “especially the ‘creatives,’ Mery was known as a force for good… her many friends will sorely miss Mery; I know that I surely will. She was one-of-a-kind and an all-too-rare phenomenon in the population of our world.”
Rosado supported local businesspeople in Saugerties with equal enthusiasm. She co-founded the Saugerties-based Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (along with Tiffany Sperl of Key Bank and Cornelia Seckel, publisher of Art Times journal), to provide opportunities for local women in business to support each other. Seckel describes Mery as “a sweet and gentle soul. A solid businesswoman, a loving friend, and what a gift to have known her, worked with her and laughed with her.”
In Mery’s final days at the hospital, “The nurse asked if we were sisters,” says Seckel. “I said that we were spiritual sisters and we smiled at one another. Mery’s spirit is with all of us and that spirit is what makes her so important to creative people. Mery’s own creativity was in bringing us all together and loving the creative spirit in all of us. Her memory is a blessing and reminder to see spirit in each other.”
Peggy Schwartz of Town & Country Liquors met Mery Rosado a few years ago. “We were both members of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce and eventually on the Chamber board together. We spent more ‘business’ time together as participants in AWE [Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs] and I am happy to say that Mery became a friend. I grew to have respect and admiration for her entrepreneurship and for her tremendous support of and involvement in the local music and art world and civic activities. Mery’s smile could and did light up a room — it was like Mona Lisa’s; peaceful but with the hint of something behind it — naughty but nice Mery.”
As a member of the Chamber, Rosado participated in Saugerties’ annual public art project (most recently the model lighthouses) and was a former member of the board of the Saugerties Historical Society. “There isn’t anything that was Saugerties that she did not participate in,” says Lee. “She was proud to drive a car from Sawyer Motors; that was Mery. She wanted to support everyone in the community, and she did whatever she could to do that.”
And that was sometimes done in an understated way. Several years ago a fire forced the English Garden Antiques shop on Partition St. to close. Rosado had already bought the building next door and had plans for it, says Lee, but she offered the space to the owners of the antiques shop instead.
“Because she wanted to see them survive,” says Lee. “She wanted them to make it.”
Rosado co-founded the annual Sunset Concert Series at Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park with Lee, bringing in Steve Massardo of the John St. Jam to do the sound. “Mery loved doing the concerts,” says Lee. “And she fought tooth-and-nail for the concerts to remain free for the public. She paid the musicians out of her own pocket the first year, and after that the Chamber of Commerce split the cost with her.”
In her youth, Mery attended the High School of Art and Design in New York City, where she studied photography. “That’s where she got her love of the arts,” says Lee. “When she was a kid she wanted to be a fashion designer, but she ended up getting very heavily into photography as a young person. She was an amazing photographer.”
Rosado was an avid reader. She practiced yoga and she enjoyed traveling, although Lee says she never got the chance to fulfill her lifelong wish to go to Italy. “The place she loved the most was the top of the mountain in Corozol, Puerto Rico,” Lee says. “Something like 500 years of her family was from there.”
Mery was also devoted to her two granddaughters, Isabelle and Amelia, who live in Colorado. In addition to the girls, survivors include her son, Raymond and his wife, Kristen of Colorado; sister, Carmen; and brothers, Marcial, Rudy, David and Daniel. Expressions of condolence may be shared at www.SeamonWilseyFuneralHome.com.