Victoria’s Secrets: Fond farewell to Palm Beach

palm beach
World TM (transcendental meditation) expert Dr. Tony Nader, seen with Derek Nadeau, spoke at a luncheon organized by Joanna Plafsky.

As I write my final column from Florida, I can say how blessed I was to be here.

My last days are being shared with my grandson Jonah, who has time off for spring break. He will come to Palm Beach for a few days and we will fly home together! 

It’s a sweet closing of a chapter of my life meeting extraordinary people while I was doing the dance of work and play!

Juliana Terian hosting Rep. Tom Suozzi, along with Christine Storm and Todd Whitmer of the Caron Foundation
Kevin O’Connor (former CEO of Dime Bank) with Producer Pauline Weissert at the Colony Hotel

During this stay, thanks to friends Missy Sullivan and attorney Mike Nicodema, I was introduced to Wellington’s horse world. It inspired me to create The Circuit, a supplement to Dan’s Papers Palm Beach focusing and featuring people who do dressage, jumping and polo playing. It’s a peek into another part of our world in Florida and the Hamptons. 

Celebrating and attending many fundraising events points to the generosity of the people in Palm Beach who support many causes, including superb institutions at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and numerous humanitarian efforts and concerns for Israel.

Shopping at Donna Schneier’s art jewelry show at the Boca Raton Museum with Alan Gottleib and Sheila Levy
The Mendez family at Scott Diament’s home for a business meeting in West Palm Beach

My most precious memory is bringing my grandchildren to Meg Weinberger’s farm in Palm Beach Gardens, where she has rescued horses, zebras, donkeys and even a pet goose! What a remarkable woman who is also running in the primary for the state Legislature. I hope she wins because she would be a true public servant, just as my dearest friend Claire Shulman was in Queens.

Meg Weinberger

But with joy, there is also sadness and loss. I lost a dear friend, Westhampton Beach’s Michael Burner, who helped me navigate the issues of owning my home in Quiogue and was the beloved husband of my special friend Nancy Burner. He will be sorely missed.


A life well lived

Sadly, my friend for over 30 years, the unforgettable Joe Mattone, died at 92, having lived a full life and leaving behind a legendary footprint.

He came from a poor family and built an empire in the real estate business. In a massive way, he supported causes close to his heart, such as Futures in Education providing scholarships for children in need to attend parochial schools in the Brooklyn and Queens Diocese. He also gave abundantly to his beloved alma mater St. John’s University, where several buildings and programs bear his name. 

The beloved Joe Mattone (r.) with his wife Mary Ann

He generously gave to Ozanam Hall, where his beloved wife Mary Ann’s mom lived under the superb care of the Carmelite nuns in Bayside.

Joe passed away quietly in the night with Mary Ann holding his hand. They were an extraordinary couple that I met decades ago.

When I launched my Power Women event 30 years ago, I honored Mary Ann and when I launched the Kings of Queens, Joe was in my first group alongside Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We joked that, thanks to his seven children, I’d have people to honor for years — and we did! Joe was my great supporter in helping me to launch my Power Events division.

He is a Horatio Alger success story, starting his business and building it to be the most respected and successful real estate company it is today.

He had seven children with his first wife Irene — six of them becoming lawyers and one a doctor. What a legacy!

When Irene passed, he met Mary Ann and their journey together began. They were a dynamic duo giving of themselves endlessly to great causes. They also knew how to have fun and celebrated the Christmas “season” with a magnificent party at the handsomely holiday-decorated Columbus Club. What a spectacular sight!

Every year I adored being there to sing along with an opera singer who delightedly performed a concert of holiday songs! Then we made our way to the spectacularly decorated tables for a delightful dinner of great conversation and delicious food. Those nights are indelibly embedded in my heart!

Joe, supporting causes, bought tables at galas in gorgeous settings and invited me and other friends to the black tie events. It was so much fun to attend!

Mary Ann threw Joe superb birthday parties attended by his many friends, children and grandchildren. My favorite party was on a yacht that carried us around the Statue of Liberty on a picture perfect night.

We made so many sweet memories together!

Joe, your legacy continues through your family and the thousands of people you nurtured and whose lives you made better because of your generous heart. Not bad for a kid with barely a penny in his pocket! Rest in peace, Joe. You will always be in our hearts and minds. 

And special thanks to Mary Ann — a nurse by profession — who watched over her beloved Joe and added years to his life.