But did you know that Connie worked in Hollywood in the early 1950s and watched rehearsals for TV shows staring Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and George Burns?
“After high school, I worked in my hometown of Chicago as a legal secretary. So, after my marriage to Bill Butt, who was from Santa Monica, I got a job in Hollywood with CBS in their legal department, and my job was to type the artists’ contracts on a typewriter,” Connie said.
“My desk was a few steps from the sponsors booth, which overlooked the sound stages. I knew that Amos and Andy were white actors (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll). I watched the director discuss a scene with George Burns, but his wife Gracie Allen would follow only if George told her. The shyest person of all was Johnny Carson.”
Before Carson spent 30 years on “The Tonight Show,” he was hired by CBS-owned Los Angeles television station KNXT-TV/Channel 2 to host a low-budget sketch comedy show called “Carson’s Cellar” (1951 to 1953).
“Since I typed their contracts, I knew how much the stars were getting paid,” Connie said.
Connie grew up as Conjetta Marinello on Giddings Street in northwest Chicago. After attending business college, she worked at a downtown law office at 33 North La Salle Avenue. On a vacation to California, Connie rode one day on a bus from Glendale to Santa Monica with her mom, friend Annette and Aunt Minnie from Alaska. At the beach there was a friendly lifeguard named Bill Butt who later took Connie and Annette to dinner. “On our second date, we went dancing without Annette and I gave him my home address in Chicago,” Connie said. “He wrote me letters. And then I took a train cross-country to California to get to know him better and determine if we were seriously interested in a future together. Turns out, we were. We were married in Chicago in 1950.”
In 1957, Connie and Bill moved to Hawaii before it became a state. Bill worked as an architect and Connie worked with him. They returned to the mainland in 1971 and moved first to a condominium they purchased and then to the home on El Capitan Drive in La Mesa, where Connie still lives today. She started selling real estate in 1972.
Bill passed away suddenly on Sept. 8, 1979. “We had just moved to the house in July of that year,” Connie said. “It was Saturday afternoon, and I was in the garden when Bill called me and said he was having trouble breathing. He was dealing with Parkinson’s disease. I called the ambulance, but he was gone shortly after arriving at the hospital. Just that quick.”
Since 1984, Edward, her former landscaper, has been Connie’s companion. “He’s good company and I enjoy our times together,” Connie said.
In 1982, ESDCAR member Becki Schwab saw Connie after a Toastmasters meeting at the Association’s El Cajon office. (Schwab, also a lifetime C.A.R. honorary member, later served as C.A.R. president.) According to Connie: “Becki stopped me and said, `I refuse to let you go home until you agree to serve as president next year.’ That’s how I got drafted.”
Over the years, Connie has owned several real estate offices in partnership with fellow East County REALTORS®, including Wayne Grayson and Dan Baxter. Today, she works with Keller Williams Realty’s La Mesa office. The long-time member of the La Mesa Kiwanis also is serving as the club’s 2015 president.
“I love real estate because I enjoy the legal aspect of it,” Connie said. “Also, it’s very gratifying to help people with happy events in their lives, whether they’re buying or selling.”
She also enjoys PSAR. “I’ve never detected a personal agenda with any board member. We seek to do the best for everyone’s benefit. That’s what a good Association is all about.”