The light was off and the conveyor belt was filled with flowers and cards remembering Rosa Wittenburg, a beloved member of the community and cashier at Food Lion, after she recently passed away.
Rosa began working at the store in the 90s when her family settled in at Lake Anna after living in Maryland and Missouri. Since then, she has never ceased to make customer’s smile.
“Every time my girls went into the store, Rosa would ask how they were doing with school and life in general,” said Louisa resident Sheila Thurston. “When my husband went into the store, she would ask how my daughters were doing. She was just a very personable person who was concerned about her customers.”
The make-shift memorial also included a card that residents could sign, leaving messages for Rosa’s family. A post in the Facebook group Louisa County, VA Residents about the memorial drew comments from members reminiscing about Rosa.
“I’ve never seen her that she didn’t ask about my family,” one member said. “I think she’s worked there since they opened, because I don’t remember her not being there.”
“Rosa always had a smile on her face, asked about my family and others,” another member commented. “I always loved to get in her line because she knew how to make my day brighter.”
Rosa first came to the country in 1984 from Nicaragua to work as an embassy housekeeper and nanny for the Tapia family. It was during her time there where she met her husband Wayne, a groundskeeper for the family.
Before Rosa left to return home to Nicaragua, she spent time with her aunt in California. It was during this time her husband asked for her hand in marriage. She declined his first offer.
During her time back home, she and Wayne would write letters to each other and have friends translate them. During their letter exchange, he offered a second marriage proposal. Despite disapproval from her mother, Rosa said yes.
Wayne flew to Rosa in hopes of bringing her back to the country but without extensive documentation, she was unable to enter. It was not until 1987 she was able to come to the states.
While living in Louisa, Rosa found an ad in The Central Virginian for English as a second language classes. Rosa worked hard to obtain her GED and citizenship. She took the oath to become an American citizen in 1999.