Carlotta Rizzo Dicker


Our family moved to Florida from Deerfield, Illinois at the beginning of my sophomore year at Sarasota High School. I liked everything about Florida: my classmates, the school, and of course, the great weather. Unfortunately, I was not well during those years. All my joints ached and I was very tired. Our family doctor suspected that I had rheumatoid arthritis, and it was not until 1965 that this diagnosis was verified by a specialist. Therefore, I did not begin aggressive treatment until then. The good news is that one of the drugs available at that time was very effective on me. I literally had a rebirth; no longer was I dragging around, joints aching. I had boundless energy and great endurance. And, fortunately, I have had good health for most of my life with continued effective treatment. By the way rheumatoid arthritis is not osteoarthritis. RA is a systemic disease that can even affect the organs; whereas, osteoarthritis affects the joints only. My husband Paul has always been there for me and I can’t thank him enough.

During college, I married Paul Dicker, SHS class of 1958. We both graduated from the University of Florida. Paul received both his bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering and I received a bachelor’s in English and speech with certification in secondary education. After completing our studies, we moved to Virginia where Paul worked at NASA for a few years before we moved to Palm Beach Gardens, FL where Paul went to work for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. He retired in 2001, but has remained with Pratt as a fulltime consultant ever since.

In the 1960’s, I substituted for several terms, then went into the art field for many years, finally getting my bachelor’s of fine arts degree with emphasis on painting in 1992 at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

About 1971, Paul and I made the decision to adopt a little Korean girl. The paperwork was mountainous and the interviews nerve-wracking. We had to be questioned by both Children’s Home Society of Florida and Welcome House, the Pearl Buck Foundation of Doylestown, Pa. We had to be approved by both agencies. Finally, in 1973, we picked her up at JFK airport in New York with just one day notice. Adrianne, the name we chose for her, was about two and a half years old and spoke no English. We spoke no Korean.

The adjustment was very challenging to say the least. The only health problem Adrianne had when she arrived was terribly decayed baby teeth. Within months of her arrival she had to endure two hospital surgeries to fill or crown every tooth she had. Amazingly, her permanent teeth were perfect and to this day she has no fillings. With the help of a terrific Montessori school, Adrianne not only excelled learning English, but upon entering public school in first grade, tested at sixth grade level in reading. She continued to excel in her studies in grade school and high school and then graduated from Harvard in Slavic language and literature. Adrianne worked on Wall Street for many years rising to an Executive Director status and now works for the State Department in Washington.

On September 11, 200l, after the Towers fell, as an Army Reserve Officer, Adrianne left her Morgan Stanley office in New York and made her way to a police station close to Ground Zero and offered her services. She lived in a trailer near the site for about six weeks, then volunteered to serve in Afghanistan where she did counter-terror work stationed at Bagram Air Base. She was on active duty for about two years. Adrianne married Jean Philippe Kadzinski, a native of Alsace, France two summers ago. So now, we have a real United Nations in our family!

For the past eight years, Paul and I have been collectors and dealers (me) in antique American Indian jewelry, (Paul) in old Florida license plates including Miccosukee and Seminole tags. We sell at antique and collectible shows throughout the year. Also, we are avid eBayers and not a day goes by that we are not on there checking out our areas of interest. Selling at shows allows us to cull our collections and add more of what we really want. This is fun to us and we like it. These interests have also helped us meet some very interesting people.

Finally, let me say that I certainly had no idea in high school the different directions that my life would take me. This journey has been full of surprises and great rewards.