Kelly Preston was a positive force in Ocala

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Posted July 27, 2020 | By Rosey Marino Jones, Guest Columnist

Ocala/Marion County has always had celebrity landowners and part-time residents. But none have ever embraced this community as their “hometown” the way John Travolta and Kelly Preston have since moving here in the early 2000s. They frequented local establishments, including restaurants, gyms, shopping centers. And we all let them live their lives without invading their privacy.

They gave of themselves so generously and graciously to our our nonprofit community by hosting numerous charity galas and premieres of their movies. They walked the red carpet with our local officials and community leaders and were just as gracious greeting the thousands gathered outside the theatres and venues as they were with those inside the “parties” They just sparkled with class … and gratitude and love.

When they began the process of building their home here in an Aviation Community, I had the wonderful opportunity of being part of the process as we at Cox Communications began wiring their home for cable and internet. They treated every member of our staff they worked with with grace and respect.

When they lost their oldest child, Jett, this entire county grieved with them. Every placard and sign in front of businesses sent heartfelt sympathies. And they remarked that it truly was their home, and they acknowledged that somehow the love they felt back from our town helped them.

When little Ben was born at our local hospital (my husband was hospitalized there at the time as well) our community celebrated with them. So happy for them to welcome some joy back into their lives.

For many years, John’s flight path for his mega Quantis jet took him right over our home — that big red tail was unmistakable. Bye John. Welcome home, John, we would say as we watched him come and go over our pool deck. We would lift a cup of cheer to him. The first home I ever sold as a realtor here was to the family’s personal pilot, Sam. He often remarked how wonderful they were as employers and as friends.

Today, the world grieves for the Travoltas yet again, as beautiful Kelly slipped away after a long battle with cancer. Our hometown grieves with John, Ella and Ben. The signs and placards will go up again, we all pray for them and send love and thanks to the family for sharing Kelly with us. I personally believe she is reunited with her beloved boy Jett.

John, Ella and Ben, your “hometown” embraces you again. We have all cherished your residency here, protected your privacy and appreciated your love for this place we call home. We are all your neighbors, and our hearts break with yours. RIP Kelly.

Rosey Marino Jones is an Ocala horsewoman and real estate agent.

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