Rose Ellen Gardner
We want to tell you a little bit about some of the wonderful people that call Avalon their home…
Rose Ellen (Arno) Gardner is a true Islander and one of a few actually born on the island. Rose Ellen’s parents, Joe and Rose Arno arrived in Avalon in 1934 to run the local fish market eventually owning the market, Catalina Café, Arno’s Seafood Grotto and the ice concession. They also had a barge at the island’s East End where fishermen could sell their fish, pick up a sandwich and drink and then head right back out to sea. The fish was put on ice, brought into Avalon and ended up on the restaurant’s menu that evening.
Rose Ellen went to school here when class sizes averaged 10 to 12 students. Summers, she and her sister worked in the family businesses until her parents decided to sell most of their businesses and relax a little. However, the Santa Catalina Island Company asked them to run the dining room at the Hotel St. Catherine, so Joe and Rose stepped back in and after a season was asked to stay on and manage the entire Hotel. Rose and her sister were now teenagers and had many fun adventures working the front desk, cashiering and working with the housekeeping crew.
Joe and Rose were always very active in the community and felt the need to give back to the island that had given them so much. They were especially instrumental in the building of our hospital. This philosophy was passed onto the girls and Rose Ellen continues to contribute to the many Avalon charities and sits on the hospital board.
After college and marriage, Rose Ellen raised her two boys on the island. As they grew into adulthood, she began working for the Santa Catalina Conservancy, eventually serving as President and CEO. After her husband, Dave retired from the Sheriff’s department and Rose Ellen stepped down as Conservancy President, the two of them began to travel and discovered the “Catalina Connection”. Frequently they would coincidentally encounter other islanders on their travels or meeting new people, they discovered that these new friends had some kind of connection to the island – went to camp here, visited each summer, parents met and fell in love at the Casino during the Big Band era, etc. Wherever Rose Ellen and Dave travel, they look forward to their return to our beautiful island, with a new appreciation of how special and lucky they are to live here.
Hotel St. Catherine
Philip Wrigley joined his father on their first visit to Santa Catalina Island. Staying at the Hotel St. Catherine with the only elevator on the island, Philip observed “If you were standing downtown and the lights suddenly went out, somebody would say ‘Someone’s going up the elevator in the St. Catherine.'"