Back when West Broward was mushrooming, there was no one more politically powerful than Sunrise Mayor John Lomelo.
Standing between Lomelo and anyone who wanted to see him was Anne Marie Labelle, his long-time personal assistant.
Labelle died January 22 of complications from a fall in Fredericksburg, VA. She was 77.
Her death closes a chapter in Broward’s history.
“Mayor John Lomelo and his administrative assistant, Anne Marie Labelle…between them pretty much run the city of Sunrise,” wrote Miami Herald columnist Doug Delp in 1983.
No one got near Lomelo’s office without passing by her first. She was Lomelo’s closest advisers her entire time in city hall. He listened to her. And she stood by his side and helped while he built Sunrise.
Labelle’s relationship with Lomelo allowed her to have a behind-the-scene role in helping create today’s Sunrise. During the 18 years she worked for Lomelo, the blueprints were drawn that would turn the tiny village into acres of high-rises, cavernous malls and sprawling condominiums.