Key Wester redefines the modern grandmother
Julia Orofino’s motto is: “Doing everything makes your kids do everything.” And it’s hard to find something Julia hasn’t done with or without her kids or her grandkids. Julia and her husband of 32 years, Mark, moved to Key West in 1988 to develop Wisteria Island as an ecological site for oysters farms, ironically. When that fell through, they stayed to raise their three kids.
Her two daughters still live in Key West. Aisha Garcia, 32, is a nurse at Dr. Ward’s office and Gigi, 26, is a dental hygienist, who still lives at home and shares a car with her mom. Her son Roman, 28, is an engineer in Miami and frequently returns home for weekends.
Presently, Julia is helping to raise her grandkids, Aisha’s Roman Ray, 7, and Ayla, 5. Dedicated to family, she gave up her job teaching P.E. at Mary Immaculate to be with her grandkids full time so Aisha could return to work.
Julia recalls their younger years in Key West.
“We had the greatest fun. We did everything every week, every tourist site to every kid event. It was wonderful.”
Now, she has continued the tradition with her grandkids including going to the library children’s hour on Fridays.
“I have been going to that for 28 years. Attending as a grandma it’s awesome, because then I get to meet the younger women.”
But Julia isn’t old. At 64, she rivals any teenager in her hobbies and activities. She travels to her native Australia, born outside of Sydney, once a year and spends one month surfing in Costa Rica every year.
“I started surfing at 52 and got hooked. I’d like to try kiteboarding but I don’t know if they’d take a woman my age,” she said, laughing. But between tennis, CrossFit and yoga, it seems anything is possible.
From bridge club once a week, lunch with her “lunch bunch,” to her business painting animal portraits, Julia shows her kids and her grandkids that doing everything at any age is possible.
As for raising kids in Key West, Julia is adamant about one thing, “My kids have never missed a Fantasy Fest.”