A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: Sallie LaRocco
Sallie LaRocco is a successful woman who is passionate about her family, running, historic homes, and wellness. She studied Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, and is a native of a tiny town in Central Illinois called Tolono, which has a population of around 1,000. LaRocco moved to Northwest Indiana just over 14 years ago after she met her husband, James LaRocco II. She has five children ages five to 20, a blended family that she proudly calls her own.
The couple met in the early 2000s on a dating website and married in 2005. But internet dating wasn’t like it is today.
“When we met on the internet, it wasn’t a socially acceptable way to meet someone,” LaRocco said. “So for the first five or six years we were married I made [James] tell people that we met at a bar,” she joked.
Because LaRocco’s husband is a Michigan City native, she and her family felt compelled to move to La Porte County and make their home in La Porte.
“I love living in this area because I feel like I live on vacation,” LaRocco said. “We spend a ton of time at the beach and exploring and I’m always down to try something new.”
They moved to a historic home in a section of La Porte known by locals as The Avenues, and LaRocco began volunteering with People Engaged in Preservation, a local preservationist group.
“I volunteer with them because I absolutely love living on The Avenues,” LaRocco said. “That was like a bucket list thing for me, to be able to buy a house there.”
LaRocco is passionate about historic homes and buildings and wants to see them flourish because she grew up in a home that was 150 years old. She wants the community to be able to experience what she has over the years.
“I love old homes and I love old buildings and I see the value in preserving these structures,” LaRocco said. “But I don’t think that preservation should have so many rules that homes can’t be equipped to handle modern living.”
Almost two years ago LaRocco began a career as Marketing Executive for Better Choices Better Lives, a U.S. grain manufacturer that makes health and wellness solutions for people. It was her first career move after taking a break to be with her family.
“I worked in the medical industry for a few years coming out of college and kind of got disenfranchised with the problems that I was seeing in the industry,” LaRocco said. “I knew that I could help people but I was oftentimes limited in what I could do, which coincide with me getting married and starting a family.”
During the time off with her family, LaRocco waited tables.
“I worked at a couple different restaurants that encouraged me to get out and see new things,” LaRocco said. “Tourists who came in would talk about the stuff they were doing in the area.”
While LaRocco and her husband have always been committed to their children and ensuring that they are readily available for them, it hasn’t always been easy. The couple lost three children during various stages of pregnancy, at a time when there weren’t as many resources to help parents cope.
“The first and second baby we lost, there was nothing and the poor nurses didn’t know what to do,” LaRocco said. “But in Michigan City there is a section of the cemetery just for babies—the plots are small and inexpensive and it’s a local funeral home who will work with you through that process. That was a Godsend to us.”
Now, resources such as Emma’s Footprints in Valparaiso have emerged to help mothers and families. LaRocco credits her parents and her family with teaching her everything she knows about how to be a professional woman and juggle all of the things that successful women have on their plates.
“Sixty years ago to be considered a successful woman, you had to be married and have children,” LaRocco said. “But now to be considered a successful woman you have to be married, have a family, have a profession, volunteer, travel, have a super exciting Instagram feed, and network like crazy.”
With the help of her family, her community, and her passions, LaRocco is rocking it.