For Mary D’Ascanio, a happy place is more about the “who” than the “where.” She’s the quintessential matriarch, a pillar of the family whose greatest joy is being surrounded by her children and three grandchildren: 5-year-old Carli, 1-year-old Camden, and 11-month-old Palmer.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the family’s home is an impeccably designed oasis in Key Colony Beach, perfect for entertaining little ones and grown-up friends alike. She fondly remembers years of her sons Franco Jr. and Nicholas’ friends making her home their own hang-out where they could always have a great meal – as long as they remembered to clean up afterwards.

“That’s what makes us happy, having people around who are enjoying our house,” she said. “That’s why we have it. My front door is a revolving door, but that’s what we love to do.”

While the D’Asign Source family business has a sterling reputation up and down the Keys, those close to Mary say she’s equally deserving of recognition, though she may not ask for it.

“Mary couldn’t be further from the stereotype of the dreaded mother-in-law,” said her daughter-in-law Jessica D’Ascanio. “We can talk about anything, even the hard stuff. She always puts her family first, and her reputation is exactly who she is.”

Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?

Jon Landau, a talented movie producer and friend of the family.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I am a kind, caring and dependable person who loves to help others.

What song always gets you on the dance floor?

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

What item do you hate spending money on when you go to the grocery store?

Cleaning supplies (Editor’s note: this was a shock. Her house is immaculate.)

Dream vacation destination?

Anywhere tropical with my family.

Least favorite smell?

Dirty diapers.

Best purchase you’ve ever made?

Our home, since it’s always a place for everyone to enjoy.

Did you grow up in a strict household?

Somewhat strict, but with a lot of care and love, very much like I tried to emulate with my own boys.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.