Rosemarie Totaro

Obituary of Rosemarie L. Totaro

Rosemarie L. Totaro (Garito), age 84, passed away Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Morton Plant Hospital, Clearwater, Fl. She led an incredible life.

She was born June 4, 1933 in Hoboken, NJ to Theresa and Salvatore Garito and grew up there and in Weehawken, NJ. She met the love of her life, Ralph H. Totaro in town and they married in 1952.  Raising three children in Weehawken, Rosemarie wished for more countryside which led to weekend excursions into Morris County, NJ looking for a new home.  They moved to Denville, NJ in the early 1960s.

Artist, catalog retail manager, gourmet cook, feminist, activist, mentor, politician, environmentalist, antique collector and dealer, real estate investor, dinner party diva and world traveler, Rosemarie achieved most of her life goals and encouraged others to do the same.  After joining the League of Women Voters she became involved in local causes that led her into the political world.  She served as legislative aide to former NJ Assemblywoman Ann Klein. Soon after she left that position to become Ms. Klein’s assistant state coordinator for the Democratic gubernatorial campaign in which Ms. Klein finished second to Brendan Byrne. Rosemarie ran for the Legislative seat Ms. Klein once held, and won.  Rosemarie served as the Democratic NJ Assemblywoman for the 23rd District for two terms, 1974-76, and 1978-80.  She was the last Democrat to hold that position in the Republican stronghold of Morris County NJ.  Significant energy and environmental related legislation proposed by Rosemarie included a feasibility study for wind power off the Jersey Shore and a unique land use planning concept - transferable development rights. Rosemarie also served as convention co-chair of the National Order of Women Legislators in 1976 and as President of the NJ Federation of Democratic Women in 1977. 

Rosemarie and Ralph became snowbirds in the 1980s putting down roots in the Clearwater, Fl. area.  There Rosemarie pursued her passion for antiques becoming a dealer, and they both enjoyed fixing and flipping real estate.  Rosemarie continued her involvement in political causes joining the Pinellas County Democrats and later leading the Democratic group at On Top of the World, Clearwater, Fl.   She loved to travel and enjoyed many trips to Europe and further abroad with her relatives and friends.  Rosemarie continued giving her fabulous dinner parties, and even offered cooking lessons to local groups for her Italian specialties.

Rosemarie was predeceased by her beloved husband in July 1996 and her daughter Denise in November 1999.  She is survived by her son Ralph Totaro, Jr., her daughter Marianne Totaro, along with many nieces and nephews, and special friends in Florida.

A Memorial Mass is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018, at 10AM, St Catherine of Siena Church, Mountain Lakes, NJ. Donations in memory of Rosemarie may be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation online at or by mail to: Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, Fl 33760.