Rochelle Park landscaper retires after 46 years
Owner of Little J’s Lawn Service Joan “J” Wilson, 63, performs a final clean up on a clients’ lawn in Rochelle Park before winter on December 9, 2021.
Amy Newman, NorthJersey.com
ROCHELLE PARK — Joan Wilson treats her customers like dear friends and family. She brings them soup, installs their air conditioners, and, most importantly, cuts their lawns. She is their landscaper, after all.
Wilson, fondly known as “Little J,” fell in love with a profession that wasn’t the norm for women in the 1970s.
Her parents had hoped she would go to college and become a teacher or take over another family business. “I went to one class, but it just wasn’t for me,” she said.
Wilson, the youngest of four children, got into the business because of her brother Jerry. He cut lawns in high school, and when he went off to college, he asked her if she would be willing to help. She loved being outdoors.
“I came home and asked my parents if I could please be a landscaper,” she said.
Her parents agreed, but gave her three years to establish a business. Little J’s, possibly the first female-owned landscaping business in Bergen County, lasted 46 years.
WIlson will retire on Dec. 20, her 64th birthday.
Wilson grew up in Dumont, then moved to Rochelle Park after she married. She set up her landscaping business there. She eventually did go back to school, and after seven years taking classes in between jobs, she received a degree in agriculture from Bergen Community College.
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“One thing I try to teach: Not everything has a price tag,” Wilson said. “If someone needs help, you help them. It’s all about helping people. It’s what my parents taught me.”
Her clientele list is small — 55 people — but for years there was a waiting list. Bill Coleman of Rochelle Park was on it at one time. He said Wilson has been his landscaper for at least 20 years, and she’s become a good friend.
“She’s a lot different than most landscapers. She’s reliable,” Coleman said. “On a Friday night, if a group is getting together, she’s right there with us. It’s a shame to see her leave.”
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Wilson doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. …….