Top photo: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico/ Wikipedia/ Kailuo Wang
Marie Helene Morrow
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Where are you originally from and where did you grow up?
I was born Marie Helene Fischer in Haiti and lived there until I was 14 years old.
How did you come to Puerto Rico and why did you decide to settle here?
I was living in New York City, working at the United Nations and decided to come to Puerto Rico to learn Spanish in order to further my career. Besides being the Honorary Consul of Austria in Puerto Rico, you also run a very successful company called Reinhold Jewelers.
How did you get into the jewelry business?
I entered the jewelry business accidentally, by marrying Henry Reinhold, a diamond dealer who had established a jewelry store in Old San Juan.
Tell us a little bit about the company? What is the secret to your success?
My late husband decided to focus on gemstones, while I was and still am, infatuated by Art and Design. When we separated, I started my own business dedicated completely to designer jewelry and it is still the same today. The secret of anyone’s success, I believe, is to love what you do. I love going to work every day, enjoy my staff and our clients. Living in Puerto Rico makes it all even more special.
Can you name some personal highlights of your career? Are there any special stories that you would like to share with our readers?
The highlight of my career was to be the recipient of the GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement in January 2014, presented by the Jewelers of America. It was my pleasure also to be involved in Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign as Co-chair in Puerto Rico. Being part of his National Finance Committee and a delegate from Puerto Rico at the Convention gave me a very close look at how government and political parties work.
For how long have you been serving as Honorary Consul and how did that come to be?
My father was Consul of Austria first in Haiti and then in Puerto Rico for many, many years. My late husband Henry Reinhold also served as the Austrian Consul in Puerto Rico. Upon his retirement, I was honored to be named Consul, a post I have been proud of since 1981.
Is there a large Austrian community in Puerto Rico? Are you in frequent contact with them? We are a very tiny community dispersed throughout Puerto Rico and we get together for Austrian National Day. I have often hosted events for the National Day and also joined the Horned Dorset Hotel for theirs.
What are some of your tasks as Honorary Consul and how much time do they take out of your day?
I have several tasks as Honorary Consul, and my assistant takes care of the administrative duties. Whenever we have Austrian citizens that require legal assistance is when I become involved and some cases may take a few months.
Have you been to Austria recently? Are there any Austrian traces to be found in Puerto Rico?
I have not been to Austria very recently although I have been many times in my life and love it deeply. I look forward to every trip and hope to go there again next year. It gave me great pleasure to take my granddaughter to my grandparents’ home and have her walk the streets and visit the cemetery where my family was buried. It is amazing to me the love for Austria that exists in the Puerto Rican community. Many have visited Austria, especially music and art lovers.
Do you have any favorite places in Puerto Rico? Any insider tips for our readers?
My favorite place in Puerto Rico is Old San Juan. I love the old cobblestoned streets, churches and buildings. No one should miss a visit to the San Jose Church, the second oldest in our Hemisphere.
Marie Helene Morrow has served as the Austrian Honorary Consul for Puerto Rico since 1981. In addition to her job as Honorary Consul, she has been president of Grupo Reinhold, Puerto Rico’s top jewelry chain for over 40 years. In June 2010, she was awarded the first Couture Human Spirit Award for her unwavering dedication to the jewelry community, and for her selfless work for the numerous charities she has assisted throughout the years. Most recently, she received the 2014 GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement.