Stories of Support

Rose A. DeBord

Mar 13, 2023

Nancy Ann Marzano and Rose A. DeBord

“My life was so much richer because of my sister”, states Rose A. DeBord, treasurer for The Charles and Salome Reymann Foundation. When reflecting on the life and death of Nancy, Rose speaks with wisdom, a full heart and an undeniable laugh that belongs to Rose alone.

Nancy Ann Marzano was born with developmental disabilities, and as Rose describes, was mentally challenged. She had the mind of a five-year old and required 24-hour assistance. Nancy’s parents decided to care for her in their own home, surrounded by her siblings, yet against the common guidance to ‘institutionalize’ their daughter with special needs. “Nancy didn’t know she was different” chuckles Rose, and adds “she accepted everyone, no matter who they were”. Nancy was not aware of her own limitations; therefore, she did not recognize limitations in others. Unfortunately at the time, the general public did not understand Nancy’s challenges either.

Due to Nancy’s challenges, family life in the Marzano household was a bit limiting. Even the simplest pleasures were compromised. Family vacations were rare, dining at restaurants was impossible, and family outings just didn’t happen. “I rarely invited people to my home unless they were true friends”, Rose says. “My closest friends understood Nancy”. Clearly, those sisterly bonds were stronger than anything negative that might have come their way, and both girls grew up learning from each other.  Nancy thrived in a nurturing environment, and loved others unconditionally. Rose learned patience, tolerance and the importance of advocacy. “I realized how critical it was to speak out for individuals who can’t advocate for themselves.”

The family leaned on the developmentally disabled community, which provided constant support for the Marzanos. Whether it was camaraderie, guidance, emotional or practical support, the community became part of the Marzano family, and those ties were reciprocated. Case workers created personal care plans for Nancy. They advocated, advised on care and housing options, and ‘walked the walk’ with the family.

Fortunately, the general public has grown more accepting of persons with disabilities since the 1960s. Group homes have become a more viable option to provide safe housing for adults with special needs. In the mid 1970’s, Weaver School and Workshop opened, providing transportation and programs appropriate for Nancy. Later, as both Nancy and her parents aged, the decision was made to relocate Nancy to a group home in Tallmadge. It was at that point that Rose assumed guardianship duties for Nancy. “I’ve made some difficult and challenging decisions on behalf of Nancy, but I believe those decisions not only benefitted her, but will ultimately benefit others” Rose confidently states. At less than 5’ tall, Rose is a strong and bold woman, and certainly has broad shoulders! In that regard, she is very much like Salome Reymann, the matriarch of the Reymann Foundation.

“My heart is with Salome. She was a giver to others and an advocate for the less fortunate, and I feel a kindred spirit with her”, sweetly says Rose. “I deeply desire to give back to the developmentally disabled community.”  Rose has chosen to do this through her service to the Reymann Foundation as treasurer on the Foundation’s board of directors, lending her accounting skills to help manage the organization’s operations. “I’ve known the Reymann family for many years, and I was aware of the mission of the Foundation. Although my sister passed away last December, I feel I can continue to advocate for her and for others who face similar challenges.”

As an active member of the Reymann Foundation, Rose has a front seat to the partners, sponsorships and activities that the Foundation supports. She loves the causes that the Foundation grants monies to, believes in their programs, and appreciates that she has a voice in the Foundation’s involvement with other organizations. She is proud of the impact that the Foundation is making in the Akron area, and recognizes all the good works that are occurring in our communities. But Rose also comments that there are yet more opportunities that exist, and a lot more work that needs done.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Nothing worth having comes easy.” For Rose and her family, life wasn’t necessarily easy. But their challenges were definitely worth it, and they were richer because of the blessing of Nancy Ann Marzano in their lives. Likewise, The Charles and Salome Reymann Foundation is richer because of Rose and her service to our shared cause.  Thank you for your passion and commitment Rose!