Marathon Neighbor of the Week: Ginger Henderson

As a Miami native who’s spent
most of her life in Marathon, Ginger
Henderson marvels about how
as much as things have changed in
the Middle Keys since she arrived
in the late 50s, so many things
have remained the same.

“Marathon still has the small
town spirit that it had back in the
old days,” she reflected. “Folks still
pull together in times of trouble.”

That was precisely why her
parents opted to relocate their four
children to Marathon when Ginger
was entering the fourth grade and
would attend Sue Moore Elementary
School. On Labor Day weekend
in 1958, the family packed
their belongings and headed
south to their new home. She and
her siblings could hardly contain
their excitement about the move.

“As we drove up to our new
house, my mother warned us to
run as fast as we could into the
house because of all the mosquitoes,”
she laughed. “But we were
so excited. Our family of four kids
lived in a tiny house on 110th Street
on the ocean side. Being only
three houses from the ocean at the
end of our street was such a thrill
for us.”

When “The Gem of the Florida
Keys” – Key Colony Beach – was
still but a dream for developer Phil
Sadowski, Ginger remembered
the scarcity of traffic back then
compared to the constant flow of
vehicles around the clock today.
“You could stand on the side of
the narrow two-lane highway, look
to your right and left, and not see
a car for a long time. The west end
of Key Colony Beach was still being
built, and the dredge lines were
running night and day.”

After finishing high school,
Ginger attended the University of
South Florida and later the University
of Miami. A return to her
old stomping grounds somehow
didn’t satisfy her appetite for
adventure, so she set her sights on
the University of the Americas in
Mexico City.

“The plan was that I would drive
myself to Mexico, alone,” she reminisced.
“Looking back, I question
my parents’ judgment on that!”

In a fateful chance encounter at
the former Royal Castle – now the
Cracked Conch – she bumped into
Bruce Schmitt who confessed he
was not content at the University
of Miami. Ginger suggested he
check into transferring his studies
to her school in Mexico. He was
promptly accepted, and the pair
set off south of the border.

After graduation, Bruce helped
Ginger land her first job as an
insurance underwriter with Gussy
Johnson of Johnson’s Insurance in

Her destiny for a career in real
estate, however, seemed set in
stone long before she began her
studies in International Relations.

Both her mother and grandmother
had been in the real estate business
for quite some time. Marilyn
worked for a quarter century with
Alan Schmitt Real Estate, and
Ginger joined the firm when first
broke into the field.

In 1982, the mother-daughter
team decided to open their own
company and named it Carico Real
Estate. She said the initial move
was actually a scary one – “Those
too were recession years,” she
added. Traffic was light on US 1,
and though Alan tried to discourage
them from leaving, in the end,
he wished the team well.

“I am very close to my mother,”
Ginger said proudly. “We have
been business partners all of my
adult life. She has been a huge
influence on me, and I am very
grateful for the opportunities that
she gave me in my business career.”

The Marathon Weekly enjoys
asking local real estate agents
about their first, as well as their
most memorable closings.

“I really can’t remember by
first real estate closing, but there
have definitely been some very
interesting ones,” she confessed,
“like the time I had a buyer pay for
a $500,000 house with a 50-carat
emerald necklace. I even got to
wear it for a few days while I waited
for the new owner to come and
get it. That was really something!”

What keeps her going with the
ebb and flow of the real estate
market, however, is bringing
together buyers and sellers and
seeing everyone happy at the closing

Thirty-five years later, Ginger
confesses the stars seem to have
aligned just right for her. The
friend who once helped her safely
navigate her way to Mexico is
now her fiancé, and she splits her
time between her hometown of
Marathon and her family ranch in
Costa Rica.

“In the mid-80s, my parents
moved there full time, and my
mother heads up the family real
estate firm there. She just turned
88, and she still goes into the office
every day!”

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