It was standing room only with a line out the door for the celebration of life held in honor of Fiore Market Café matriarch, Anne Disselhorst, on Friday afternoon at Fremont Centre Theatre. The line was made up of friends and community members, all patrons of our beloved Café, who wanted to have a moment with Anne’s husband, Bill, and simply share their love for Anne and their sorrow for her loss. Gorgeous flowers flowed throughout the patio, lobby and restaurant; several arrangements from neighbors Patrice and Jessica of Vave Studios as well as dozens of beautiful and simple wildflowers brought by the friends who came to gather and be together.
A lovely lunch was served of some Fiore favorites along with their famous bread. How perfect that the community would gather to break bread together in the place that Anne and Bill created together. Bill told the story of how in 2010 he knew he was about to be without a job and wasn’t sure what he was going to do, “it was Anne who said, ‘how about if we do something together?’” Becoming emotional at the memory, he says it was she who energized him and gave him the inspiration to open the restaurant. In fact, just about every story told came back to a unifying theme; Anne had inspired them to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves and follow their hearts.
After hugging and greeting well over a hundred people, Bill gathered everyone in the courtyard to thank them for being there explaining “Anne and I always wanted something like this; we didn’t want to open a restaurant and just serve food. We wanted people to come and just sit and hang out. People would come and think they had to leave and Anne would always tell them ‘no, just sit’.”Sons, Patrick and James were by their father’s side throughout the celebration, sometimes offering a hand on his shoulder for support, along with all of Anne’s brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and friends, many of whom shared stories. Anne’s humor and sarcasm was also very present in the room with Bill explaining that, coming from the midwest where everyone is so sweet, he had never met anyone like Anne before and he loved their banter, teasing and lively conversations.
Bill said that whenever he complained to Anne about things getting rough or having to work too much, she always said, “your dream not mine”, eliciting laughter from the crowd. She said it maybe a thousand times recalled Bill, but he said, “I can tell you the story because she’s not going to be able to defend herself. It’s really not true,” going on to say it was she who made the dream possible by suggesting they do it together. “It was like lightening in a bottle and gave me a catalyst to do this. And from that moment until we opened the door, we were having amazing fun just thinking about what we were going to do here and driving around. Anne was always into antiques, that rustic look which I fell in love with.” He spoke of endless days of talking about how it would all unfold.
“I get so much credit for this. But the truth of the matter is it’s 60/40 Anne; the whole look of the place is Anne. We came up with the menu in a week in our kitchen at home.” Bill also said that a recipe wouldn’t go on the menu or as a special until Anne approved it, saying she had a 6th sense about it and he knew if she said it wasn’t right then he needed to tinker with it until she said it was perfect.
Story after story spoke of Anne’s generosity and it became clear she was not only an amazing mother to her own sons, but was a mother figure to her family members, to the Fiore staff, to young people she took in, to patrons who she took under her wing. It is obvious that Anne and Bill indeed created so much more than a restaurant, but rather a refuge, a home, a place where people want to stay a while. Bill told of a couple of regulars who would often come for lunch, have coffee, continue talking and come back in for a second meal and how much he loved that. Longtime friend and patron, Dublin Galyean, assured Bill that, “this community is going to live on, what you and Anne created is going to live on.”
Jack Bennett, director of Young Stars Theatre, described Anne as “always a pleasure to talk to and wonderful to have someone like her to have a business next to…someone you interact with every day, to have someone who was sweet, thoughtful and understanding…always letting us slip through the kitchen.”
Echoing that sentiment was Fremont Centre Theatre owner, Lissa Reynolds, who expressed gratitude that they could gather in the courtyard where Bill and Anne would relax together in the afternoon. “I used to introduce Anne saying ‘this is Anne of Anne and Bill; she’s the better part’. She’s probably the sweetest personality I’ve ever met; she just handles things with such a gentle presence” said Reynolds, explaining she recently had been compelled to fix up the garden; having just finished painting and planting last week, she now feels she was compelled for a reason and said, “I think this is the place that was meant for you all to celebrate Anne because this was her little, quiet spot. I feel her right here with us.”