Bobbi Horwich, resident and fitness instructor at The Carlisle in Lantana, draws a crowd for a yoga class inside the fitness room. Horwich also has started a ballet class. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Bobbi Horwich is something we rarely see: a born-and-raised native of Palm Beach County who has never lived anywhere else. That’s one thing that makes her unusual, but there are others.
Horwich once owned a drugstore in West Palm Beach that was the go-to spot for the Kennedy clan.
And she occasionally hosts luncheons with women mayors Bonnie Fischer (South Palm Beach), Betty Resch (Lake Worth Beach) and Karen Lythgoe (Lantana) as well as Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon to discuss the issues they are facing.
The 80-year-old resident of The Carlisle in Lantana also runs both fitness and ballet classes for residents there several days a week, and the classes have become very popular.
“When I moved here (in November 2020), I wanted to do something,” Horwich said. “So I started and, little by little, people started coming in. Some are people who never did anything. And that’s my claim to fame.
“I get quite a few fit people. And then I get people who just come and do what they can. I have two friends who are 102 years old; we have breakfast, and one takes my class. And now I started a ballet class. We have a barre, and we have two men who attend. It gives me a good feeling when I’m finished.”
Horwich, who attended Twin Lakes High School, which was located on the current site of the Kravis Center, has enjoyed seeing the area blossom into a cultural hotbed.
“There was a time when all West Palm Beach had was a good library,” she said. “It was a place my mother could drop me off, it was safe and you could visualize the rest of the world.”
Literacy and libraries are two of Horwich’s passions. Another is the environment, as exemplified by her being honored as an “Everglades Champion” by the Marshall Foundation in 2010 after her lobbying in Tallahassee landed it a $100,000 grant from the state.
“People would not know that deep down I’m really insecure,” she said. “That’s why I like being around older people. I’m insecure but I love strong women. I really do.”
Horwich has lost two husbands — and a daughter, Fort Lauderdale attorney Marcie Nolan, who died of ovarian cancer at age 48.
— Brian Biggane
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A: I went to Twin Lakes High School and the University of Florida. It’s been something being here all those years and seeing Palm Beach County grow the way it has. We didn’t have anything in the way of culture. We didn’t have ballet, we didn’t have music. I was so happy when we got libraries in the county, and very happy when the senior community came in and demanded it. So, I’ve seen that change.
I’ve seen the waterfront change, too. The mansions have become smaller but much richer. I’m not happy with what’s happened with the Ag Reserve, but what’s happening with infrastructure and restoring things is nice. This has become a nice place to grow up. I’ve seen the magnet schools do something wonderful. I was sorry my late daughter didn’t get to go to Suncoast and Dreyfoos. And the diversity, it’s getting better. Just not as much as I would like.
Q: What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I owned a small, independent drugstore in downtown West Palm Beach before it all changed. They didn’t have surgical supplies then, so we sold them. We took care of the Kennedys, going back many years.
After that I worked for the state of Florida in Children and Family Services, just for a while. I’m a soft touch, so when people came in, I’d do my best to help them.
Then I met this wonderful doctor (who became her husband) and he said, “You know, I want to travel, I want to do things,” and I realized I didn’t need it (her job with Children and Family Services) anymore. It was only 21/2 years, but it was an experience I will never forget.
Then I became much more volunteer-oriented, until I moved here.
Q: What advice do you have for a young person seeking a career today?
A: Never say never. My daughter started up at Amherst College and went through all the A’s — anthropology, architecture — and she ended up being an environmental specialist, and then becoming a lawyer. You’re never too late to start anything, never too old to try something new.
Q: How did you choose to make your home in coastal Lantana?
A: I had an apartment with my husband in Palm Beach and I was very busy there, but then my husband died and my daughter died, as well. Then I decided to move here because I was lonely in Palm Beach, especially in the summer when everyone would go away. I was going to have to spend a lot of money to update my apartment there, and everything I needed was here. I like being taken care of, so this was a good fit.
Q: What is your favorite part about living in coastal Lantana?
A: It’s my village. I love the shopping center across the street, I’ve got my doctors, my library, my post office. I can walk to the beach. I’ve made some friends in the town. I’m friendly with Bonnie and some of the other women mayors and we have lunch and talk about all their different issues. And I like that.
Also, the beach is a half-block away, and we don’t have as much asphalt here, so it doesn’t get as hot as other places. Location is everything, and this has it.
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: I like Michael Connelly, I just got the new David Baldacci book. I don’t read all bestsellers; I don’t read Danielle Steel. But I like a book with a good character and good story. And a lot of times the location will be Key West or New York or somewhere I know. There’s a book out called Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson. I read it and that’s a good story.
The library system in Palm Beach County is wonderful. There’s something for everybody.
Q: What music do you listen to when you want to relax? When you want to be inspired?
A: I can’t say I like rap. I love Tina Turner. I like dancing so I like pop music, and when they play ’60s music, I like that. They have a lot of music here. I also used to love Neil Diamond and Earth, Wind and Fire. I like danceable music. I don’t go as far back as the ’40s with the big bands, but there’s good music out there.
Q: Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A: I had one, Honey Duncan, and she just died. Honey’s husband was a drama teacher who taught Burt Reynolds and many others. She took me under her wing. They lived in Lake Worth and she was very big in libraries, and also in Democratic politics, but mostly libraries. She was a great mentor to me.
I also have a wonderful lady in Palm Beach, the former mayor, Gail Coniglio, who also said I was her mentor. She said, “I don’t know anything over the bridge, Bobbi, but you know people over there. If I’m going to be mayor, I need to know what’s going on.” So that worked out very well.
Q: If your life story were to be made into a movie, who would play you?
A: Cate Blanchett, since she’s so diversified and she wears such beautiful clothes. She has a movie, Tár, that I thought was very good, but not everybody is going to like it. She’s Australian, and so many great actors come from there.
Q: Who/what makes you laugh?
A: A good joke. My friend Gerson here writes a poem every day and some of them make me laugh, and I have a hearty laugh. Also, I get newspapers and sometimes I laugh at some of the headlines.