By Rich Pollack
Ann Margo Cannon can remember growing up in Delray Beach and playing in the big yard of her family’s 1928 home in what is now the Del-Ida Park Historic District.
She remembers visiting shops that helped define Delray Beach in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Rosella’s Bakery and Neal’s Farm Market, and she remembers buying her first Brownie uniform at the Mercer Wenzel department store downtown.
She and her brothers often could be found on the beach with their father, John Peart, who started his Universal Beach Service in 1973. And when she wasn’t in the water, she’d most likely be wearing her dancing shoes at the Southern Dance Theater.
“My childhood was spent either playing in the big yard or at the beach, and then dancing,” says Cannon, a Delray Beach native whose great-grandfather, Lowell Davidson Kern, was Delray Beach’s mayor in 1956.
The fourth-generation Delray Beach resident ventured away for a while from the town she’ll always call home, moving to West Palm Beach while working in public relations for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and The Breakers Palm Beach.
She returned to Delray five years ago, however, and now lives with her husband, Chris, in a 1960s-era condo building, a few blocks away from the beach.
The new addition to the family is their first child, 6-month-old son John Peart Cannon — named after both of his grandfathers and now the fifth generation of Kern offspring to call Delray home.
Throughout the years, Cannon, 36, has continued to be an active member of the Delray Beach community, serving on several boards and organizations, especially those focused on the city’s history and preservation.
Most recently, Cannon joined the board of directors of the Delray Beach Public Library.
“My mom would take my brothers and me to the Delray Beach Public Library all the time to check out books,” she said. “Now, I’m looking forward to bringing John there.”
The combination of a deep historical understanding of Delray’s past and Cannon’s focus on her son’s future helped lead to her selection as a new member of one of the city’s oldest institutions.
“Ann Margo is a great addition to the library board,” says board member Sarah Flynn, who recommended Cannon for the position. “She brings a unique perspective of someone who was born and raised here and is now living here with her young family.”
In addition to her work with the library board, Cannon is active in the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, serving on the board of governors, and its Young Friends Committee. She is also a member of the Delray Beach Preservation Trust, the Delray Beach Historical Society and Sandoway House Nature Center.
And she is one of the founders of a networking group of younger people with Delray Beach ties, Preservation Generation, which was started in 2010 to help support history, nature and preservation in Delray Beach. The group has held several events and raised awareness for the Sandoway House Nature Center, the Delray Beach Historical Society and the Delray Beach Preservation Trust.
“It’s important that Delray Beach keeps its small-town charm by preserving the historical neighborhoods, buildings and stories that make this city such an interesting place,” she said. “It’s the reason people visit here and want to live here.”
Cannon will tell you that getting involved in the community and helping to make Delray Beach a better place is a family tradition that runs deep, one passed down by her mother, JoAnn Peart.
“I grew up going to all kinds of historical society and civic meetings with my mother,” she said. “One time my brother and I were playing in the trees outside City Hall, entertaining ourselves while our mother was attending some meeting.”
Through her work in the community, Cannon hopes to help Delray Beach maintain its unique character etched over the years.
“I have so much appreciation for what the people before us did for this city,” she said.