Life as an Adventure

Margot Roberts Kahn, formerly known as Mayor Margot Roberts of the tall but tiny town of South Palm Beach, died earlier this month at 74.

I hadn’t seen her in ten years and was surprised, because that was too young. She was a person of great vitality which seemed to merit great longevity.

The first line of her obituary in the local community paper gives you the idea:

“Margot Roberts Kahn, former mayor of South Palm Beach, died August 10, in Corfu, Greece, while sailing the Mediterranean . . .”

Either of the salient facts mentioned there would be enough to aspire to in the first line of one’s obituary; both add up to an energetic approach that is probably what made Ms. Kahn a compelling character in a town that seems to draw driven people.

She cared about that town, South Palm Beach, which she pointed out once is an exceptionally vertical town, made up almost entirely of condominium buildings — most over five stories. She knew its liabilities — including that it is built just about up to the ocean’s edge, and its strengths — a populace as engaged as one could hope to find in a town made up of houses, churches, schools and a square to gather.

South Palm Beach has none of those — actually I think it has two houses, total, and a bar that substitutes for the square or church. But it has lifetimes of experience settled in the people who retire there.

People who care about what they do usually think what they do is right, and she was no exception. At times as a South Palm Beach town meeting began, another Margo came to mind, or at least the words “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” She made enemies, but she had the gift of great charm as well as conviction, and also made friends of enemies.

The town was better off for having had her in their midst, and although I was sad to hear she is gone, I am happy for the first line in her obituary.

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