We’ve been wanting to profile interesting people who live here on St. John for quite some time, and we are very excited to announce the debut a new column here on News of St. John thanks to Chelsea Baranowski. Chelsea was born on St. John and owns The Lime Inn along with her husband Richard. She’s also the talent behind all of the hand-painted inspirational signs we’ve been seeing lately in the Cruz Bay area. Starting today, Chelsea is the author of our new “People Profiles” column. Today Chelsea and I would like to introduce you to Delrise Varlack, one of the busiest and hardest working women on St. John.
People Profiles: Delrise Varlack
Delrise is one of the busiest people I know on St. John. With three daughters, a grand-daughter, heading of several businesses (including the famous blue ferries, Varlack ventures), and being a constant voice in the St. John community, we’re not sure how she does it all! One clue is that Delrise hails from a long line of hard-workers, her father started Varlack Enterprises on St. John as a trucking company in the 1960s and expanded the company to school buses, then tour buses, then jeep rentals, and then to ferry service. “He was offering whatever services were needed,” she says. Delrise runs the company for her parents, along with her sister, Jean, and their wonderful assistant Winifred.
How did she fair in the storm? Pretty well, she says. “There was so much to do in preparation for and after the storm, I never had time to have anxiety,” she recalls. Delrise spent the days leading up the storm securing her vessels, her jeeps, her aging parents, her other family members, and her employees. “We were safe downstairs,” she says, “all together, huddled up.” And while her house suffered damage, “to look around, we were much better off,” so it was back to work, there were cars to be supplied to relief workers, help to be given to her fellow St. Johnians, and Port Authority, Police department, and Coast Guard, to confer with to get her operations back up and running.
It is no small feat running as large as a business as she does on St. John, not to mention her continued community involvement (you should have heard her beautiful voice in the park earlier this month for Martin Luther King Day), her ownership and activity in Sea Shore Allure, an eight-room resort in Turner Bay, and her development of an apartment complex in the valley of Cruz Bay. Delrise does not seem to be slowing down either. Varlack Ventures plans to expand into barge service from St. John and St. Thomas this year, and stresses to me that St. John needs accommodations to sustain the returning tourism to the island. (Click here to read about her proposed development.)
Despite all that seems to be going on with this lady on the move, Delrise sighs and tells us that she hopes to move her office home once internet is restored, and that in a couple of years she plans to start traveling. We really hope that with all that she has going on, and all she does for the St. John community, she gets to live out her dream.