Palm Beach Social History: Society Afloat @ Palm Beach

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Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn with daughter Fernanda “Nonie” Munn, brother Capt. John Wanamaker Jr., a renowned speed boat racer in the US and Italy, and son Gurnee Munn Jr., photographed aboard the RMS Homeric on their return from Europe in October 1922. Rather than settle into Palm Beach’s social waltz or constrained within his family’s realms of retail and racetracks, Gurnee Jr. was more an adventurer, at home on the Seven Seas from Palm Beach to Papeete. [Library of Congress]

At the moment, cliff dwellers Rocky-RamboBon JoviDonaldHoward, Rod, and Dr. Oz assure Palm Beach an almost daily news feed of datelines, making Variety and WSJ as engrossing a must-read as yesterday’s Social Register. Ocean Boulevard’s onetime parade of Old Money names has long since been replaced by Wall Street wizards and Vegas royalty, making for a cutting-edge social zeitgeist. However prominent the current crew of boldfaced culturati, yesterday’s leisure class once harbored another breed of man-about-town with a profile unlike today’s issue of men-at-work.

“There was an unmistakable air of confidence about them,” remarked Rick Herpel, a longtime area resident, historical buff, and collector. “Names come to mind, among them, Peter Pulitzer, Paul Ilyinsky, Walter Gubelmann, Wyckoff Myers, Henry HolmesDick CowellMike Phipps, Bob Leidy, George Schrafft, and Dinny Phipps. Back then, there were full-time mariners, fisherman, deep-sea divers, big-game hunters, race-car drivers, aviators, outdoorsmen, gamblers, and gentlemen, for the most part,” Herpel added.

Coconuts, 1963. Ta-boó, 211 Worth Avenue. [Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Collection]

With passports stamped Acapulco, Marbella, Bermuda, St. Moritz, Monte Carlo, San Juan, and Lyford Cay, these explorers pursued blue marlins rather than Instagram followers. “Then, there was Jim Kimberly, a book onto himself, what a life, with that single earring,” recalled Herpel.

Palm Beach, c. 1965. Peter Pulitzer and Jim Kimberly. [Palm Beach Daily News Archive]
Coconuts, 1967 @ Ta-boó. Barry van Gerbig & George Coleman; Everglades Club Golf Course, 1969. Mickey Mantle & Thomas Pace III. [Florida Memory, State Archives of Florida]
Palm Beach 1977. “Dr. Gucci at Ta-boo, And In This Spirit.” Often seen on Worth Avenue taking his daily passegiata, there was Dottore Aldo Gucci. [Courtesy of Earl Hollis]

Among the town’s characters from the Jet Set to the Space Age, Gurnee Munn Jr., unbothered by decorum and engaged with the out-of-the-way. However far flung his escapades, whether grouse hunting in Scotland, pursuing a Bongo in Kenya’s Aberdare Range, hosting a New Year’s Eve party at Treetops Hotel, encamped in California, or exploring the Seychelles Islands, Gurnee’s chief port of call became Palm Beach.

Seasonal swells arrived aboard houseboats and pleasure crafts, captains and commodores who favored high tides and the high seas rather than the mainland. [Palm Beach Life archive, Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

Among Herpel’s eclectic collections, Gurnee Jr.’s yacht log recording guests aboard his 82-foot Island Waters from 1963 until 1970. “Sometime during the 1980s, my company did some work for Gurnee’s widow Suzanne Munn, at the Sandpiper house, when she sold me, what I thought, were items from the North Lake Way house: a captain’s table, a Rhino horn, lamps, and a glass-top trophy table. She gave me the guest log,” recalled Herpel.

Island Waters guest diary, 1963-1970. The visitor’s log recorded Gurnee’s travels from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Far Side of the world, the daytrips, overnights, island getaways, and ocean voyages. [Courtesy Rick Herpel]

Here is a look back at the building of Island Waters, the who’s who among the guests between 1963 and 1970, as well as a look back at the odyssey of Gurnee Munn Jr. Last month, I was able to locate the Island Waters, still at sea 60 years later, rechristened the Mongoose. The ship is for sale and docked at Dinner Key, just a few blocks south of where I once lived in Coconut Grove.

September 2022. Dinner Key, Coconut Grove. The Island Waters has kept its classic yellow funnel. In 2012, she was refit and sports a 5000-mile fuel capacity. Whatever Gurnee’s ship may lack in style when compared to the 21st-century sleek and size of megayachts, its durability and longevity have prevailed. [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

May 1960. “Gurnee Munn Splits Estate Among Sister & Progeny.” Shortly after the death of his father, Gurnee Jr. headed to England’s Berwick Shipyard to plan and order a new motor yacht, “a deep-sea vessel suitable for world cruising.” [Palm Beach Post Archive]


August 9, 1961. Ship No. 570, blueprint sketch plan. Fairmile Construction, Berwick Shipyard, Berwick-on-Tweed. Built at a cost of £60,000, Gurnee brought over his skipper Captain Albert Voss to supervise the crafting of the ship’s “finer details.” [Courtesy Rick Herpel]

Berwick Shipyard Berwick-on-Tweed, Northumberland, England. The Berwick website documents the shipyard’s post-World War II development. In addition to the shipyard’s website, the Friends of Berwick Museum & Archive has developed a fascinating overview of the area where English shipbuilding once thrived.

Fairmile’s yachts were designed with their signature trawler hulls that gave these vessels an international reputation for cruising through the big waves and quality craftsmanship. From 1962 to 1966, the company built eight yachts for English and overseas clients. Island Waters was the company’s third project and first Corten steel-hulled yacht. In August 1967, Fairmile launched its largest private ship. Named Lanesra, it extended 98 feet with twin 240-hp engines. Yachts built for Americans were accessorized with “flopper-stoppers,” stabilizing devices designed to reduce the roll from ocean swells. [Berwick Shipyard]

September 1962. Apparently, Gurnee arrived camera-ready at the Berwick Shipyard, was got caught up in the revelry and forgot to photograph the event. By spring 1963, the Island Waters was accessorized and ready for its first Atlantic crossing. [The Journal, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne]

Island Waters. Gurnee’s pond crossing took 60 days, according to news reports, before anchoring at Palm Beach. She was docked at Gurnee’s house on North Lake Way. [Courtesy Rick Herpel]

September 1963 – December 1963
Aboard the Island Waters 

Sir James Gault & Meredith Gault  Sir James, an Old Etonian knighted in 1952, served as General/President Eisenhower’s military attaché in England when Ike was Supreme Allied Commander. With an intimate knowledge of Ike’s preferences for golf courses and castles, Sir James remained lifelong friends with the Eisenhowers.

Ogden Hammond Jr. (1912-1976) – A financier and longtime Palm Beach resident, Hammond’s parents were aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland in May 1915. His father survived; his mother did not. Hammond’s sister Millicent Hammond Fenwick (1910-1992) served four terms in the US House of Representatives. A cousin of record producer John Hammond, Ogden Hammond’s interests were Texas oil and Australian mining.

Franci & Gen. William Tandy “Bill” Young – Following his distinguished military service,  Bill Young presided over the Leo Burnett Company, a Chicago advertising concern. The second Mrs. Young, Francigene, was a renowned ceramicist. Hand-painted dinner plates could always be found at the Young residence, known as Villa Vanilla, located on Seaspray Avenue. Young’s brother and  recurrent Palm Beach houseguest was Collier Young, a Hollywood film producer, previously  married to actresses Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino. Following Young’s death, Franci married Homer Dixon.

Rodman Arturo Heeren (1910-1983) – Born in Paris and educated in the United States, Princeton ‘33, Gurnee Jr.’s double cousin, Rodman de Heeren (1910-1983) was the son of Arturo de Heeren and his aunt Fernanda “Nana” Wanamaker (1887-1958). Following the de Heeren’s divorce, Nana married Gurnee Jr.’s uncle Ector Munn in 1924. Rodman joined his cousin Gurnee enlisting in the First Philadelphia Cavalry where weekend duty was served at El Morocco. NYC tabloids reported Rodman was arm-in-arm with Brazilian beauty “Amy Lopez.” After their marriage in 1941, she became best known on Best Dressed lists as Aimée de Heeren, with the couple  settling in Paris, New York, Rio, and Biarritz. After Gurnee Munn Sr. died in 1960, Rodman and Aimèe bought Louwana, adding Palm Beach to their stationery. The family’s 17 East 90th Street townhouse, designed by Vizcaya architect F. Burrall Hoffman Jr., was sold to the Spence School in 2008 for a reported $27 million. Nearly a decade later, Rodman and Aimèe’s daughter Cristina de Herren Noble sold Louwana in 2015 for $18 million.

Atwater Kent Jr.(1908-1988)and daughter Suzanne Kent (1942-2013) – Regarded as one of Palm Beach’s “greatest gentlemen,” Atwater Kent Jr. could be found at the Peruvian docks aboard the Adventurer, his 50-foot cruiser. In 1936, Harrison Williams sold Kent The Towers, an Addison Mizner-designed oceanfront estate at 548 North County Road with 400 feet of ocean frontage, next door to Blythedunes, Williams’ estate. Known for developing the “Atwater Kent radio,” Kent leased The Towers in November 1944 to Robert and Anita Young who bought the house four months later. Commodore Kent was anchored at the Corinthian Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Cub. Between 1961 and 1966, he served as president of  The Society of the Four Arts. Suzanne Kent, an artist and interior designer, married Tommy Hitchcock III, grandson of Thomas Larimer Mellon, at Palm Beach in April 1966.

Bob Brumby – A former sportswriter, Brumby headed the publicity department at Jack Tar Hotel’s Grand Bahama Club.

Island Waters, A touch of East Africa on deck. [Courtesy Rick Herpel]

Gurnee and his sister Nonie (Mrs. Francis) Munn Kellogg shared a passion for big-game hunting and conservation in Africa. Nonie’s husband, former OSS veteran Major Francis Kellogg, was an EVP at John Wanamaker and a former president of the World Wildlife Fund. In November 1963, Nonie chaired the first Louwana Fund gala dinner dance at Delmonico’s to support anti-poaching efforts, animal surveys, and provide an airplane for Kenya’s game wardens.

At the time, Gurnee was a newly designated a Commodore at New Providence’s Coral Harbor Yacht Club. As well, Gurnee and Suzanne, then known as Brigitte, described then as his “beautiful blond French date,” were headed for the opening of Allen Manus and Lou Chesler’s Grand Lucayan Hotel, along with Brownie and Jock McLean, Russell and Mary Alice Firestone, and 200 other epicures and sensualists.

In January 1920, Gurnee Jr. first arrived on Palm Beach where his parents held a housewarming for the completion of their new Mizner-designed beach house, Louwana. Ever since Gurnee Jr. could walk and lift a silver spoon, his comings-and-goings, marriages-and-break-ups, as well as his final days, made newspaper headlines.

Palm Beach

The Breakers, Palm Beach. Left,  Gurnee Munn Jr., with his mother Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn, and her cousin,L. Rodman “Roddy” Wanamaker II. Gurnee Jr. and his cousins attended the Palm Beach School for Boys on Chilean Avenue. The son of the late Thomas Wanamaker, Roddy, was named for his Uncle Rodman, who had served as his trustee since his father’s death in 1908. Roddy owned Querida, the 1095 North Ocean Boulevard estate that was sold by the Munn, Hull & Boardman real estate firm in 1933 to Gurnee Sr.’s Harvard ‘11 classmate Joseph P. Kennedy.

February 1923, Palm Beach. Looking like perfect little angels, Nonie and Gurnee Jr. with their mother. In Patricia Ziegfeld’s autobiographical The Ziegfelds’ Girl (Little Brown, 1964), she recalled a page from her Palm Beach childhood, “I played with the Munn children, Nonie and Gurnee Jr., but they were holy terrors and I stood in awe of them. Especially when Nonie climaxed a day of general mischief by taking a bite out of her pet otter.”

Louwana, east elevation. Gurnee Munn and de Heeren residence, 473 North County Road. Addison Mizner, architect. Gurnee Jr and his sister would set-up a camping tent in the yard and with their cousins act as if they were sleeping in the wilderness. [Photo Augustus Mayhew, 2006]
Louwana. Modeled on Venice’s 15th century, Scala Contarini del Bovolo, the semi-circular staircase was designed overlooking the courtyard, linking the existing house with an addition along the south elevation. [Photo Augustus Mayhew, 2006]
Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn. Sketch portrait; Coconuts costume party. [Private Collection]

1935. Palm Beach. Nonie Munn, home from Miss Porter’s, Gurnee Munn Jr., on a break from Pomfret, and their father, Gurnee Munn, whose marriage to Louise Wanamaker ended in 1933. Gurnee Sr. never remarried; Louise married George Kent in 1949, living in the Bel-Air area of Los Angeles until her death in 1955.

1938 – 1963
Uncharted Waters

Following Gurnee Jr.’s graduation from Cambridge’s New Preparatory School in 1938, he was reported in Europe rounding out his education before beginning a business career. Apparently, Gurnee’s major interest was La Dolce Vita rather than economics. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported his marriage to one of his sister Nonie’s friends, Dodina Manfredi, daughter of Marchese and Marchesa Manfredi, a prominent Bolognese family. Any plans for him in the Wanamaker office were tabled. Soon after, a daughter Marie Louise Munn was born.

Despite Gurnee’s efforts to advance American-Italy diplomacy, he was unable to bring his family to the United States in 1941, as an apparent irreparable political breach stalemated the process. Some newspapers reported the Mussolini-allied Manfredis did not want their daughter or granddaughter living in the United States. Gurnee spent the next two years stationed near Philadelphia with the First Philadelphia Cavalry. With little hope his family would join him, he won a divorce in October 1942.

Granted a medical discharge following an automobile accident, Gurnee was soon among the pack at El Morocco. Several months after VJ-Day, Gurnee married Margaret “Peggy” Bridged Keohane in early December 1945. The newly-weds moved to Palm Beach. Ten months later, Gurnee filed for divorce. After the couple reconciled, they moved to Southern California. A son, Gurnee III, was born in 1948; then, a daughter Bridgid.

Photographed during a happier time, Peggy Keohane Munn, Gurnee Munn III, Bridgit Munn, and Gurnee Munn Jr. [Private Collection]

During the 1950s, Gurnee and Peggy made seasonal jaunts to Palm Beach, staying with Gurnee Sr., at what he called The Lodge. In 1936, Gurnee built The Lodge, designed by Treanor & Fatio, as a guest house on a parcel adjacent to Louwana. By 1955, Peggy and Gurnee had separated. Peggy and the children had relocated to Glyndon, Maryland, near the family’s American Totalizator Company’s offices.

Further widening his international expertise, Gurnee skipped summers in Newport or Maine and joined the 1950s haute monde at Torremolinos on Spain’s Costa del Sol, rubbing elbows with the likes of Juan Peron and Rafael Trujillo. Gurnee’s Prehistoric Party in 1956 made international headlines with photographs of “scantily clad cavewomen.” A Spanish regional governor fined Gurnee $250 and each of his 75 guests was fined $40 for attending “a party with immoral features” — lost in translation, perhaps. News clips reported Gurnee attached to Suzanne Delchambro, variously described as a French school teacher, a French divorcee, and “that lovely French lady.”

Back in Palm Beach, Gurnee and Suzanne, then most often referenced by news reports as Brigitte Delchambre, could be found aboard his boat Southern Waters headed to the Nassau boat races, Everglades hunting expeditions, or at the Sebring Grand Prix with Bill Plankinton, Orty Woodward, Jim Kimberly, and George Schrafft.

Gurnee Munn Sr. (1887-1960) and Gurnee Munn Jr. (1917-1978) [Private Collection]

Island Waters. 1145 North Lake Way, Palm Beach. [Courtesy Rick Herpel]

February-March 1964

Philip F. Miller and Minnie Hopkins Miller (1918-1971– The Millers lived at 970 North Lake Way. Heir to her grandfather Dr. Joseph Lawrence’s Listerine pharmaceutical fortune, Minnie was not as well-known at Palm Beach as her sister, Susie McRae Hopkins Whitmore, one of the era’s most notable philanthropist. Their parents, Russell and Vera Hopkins, owned Arcadia, an ocean-to-lake estate located north of the Palm Beach Country Club that was demolished by Joshua Cosden during the early 1920s to provide room for him to build the 100-room, Mizner-designed mansion that became known as Playa Riente. For many years, Russell and Vera Hopkins also owned what was called Point Manalapan, where they imported boatloads of exotic plantings and hardwoods. At Veruselle, the Hopkins family’s Tarrytown estate, was known to have the largest private zoo in the nation.

Palm Beach. Opening night at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse. Standard Oil scion Albert Bostwick with his first wife Mollie Netcher Bragno Bostwick, pictured above, before the couple began exchanging subpoenas. [Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

Albert C. Bostwick & Mollie Bostwick – In March 1960, Mollie Netcher Bragno, 33, having divorced a wine merchant, married Albert Bostwick, 21, a Standard Oil Trust heir, who gave his occupation as “Unemployed.” Despite a honeymoon in Jamaica, a 17-carat engagement ring, and plans for an ultra-modern Paul Rudolph-designed oceanfront home, the marriage was tumultuous, even by Palm Beach standards. During the summer of 1966, their divorce moved from Miami to Palm Beach, each with their own private detectives. Bostwick had to break-in to Sandreef, the couple’s Treanor & Fatio designed home at 1075 North Ocean Boulevard, armed with a photographer to catch Mollie in flagrante with someone else’s husband. After a protracted divorce, Mollie married publicist Paul Wilmot in December 1970. The following year, Bostwick married Claudia E. Bradley at Vizcaya.

Nadine Bretin Stearns (1930- 2017) – Nadine Stearns, a longtime supporter of the African Wildlife Foundationwas married to fashion photographer Philip Stearns.

Stewart Kellogg – Nonie Munn’s brother-in-law.

March-April 1964

Barclay H. Warburton III (1922-1983) –BHW III’s grandparents, Barclay H. Warburton I, a former mayor of Palm Beach and Philadelphia newspaper publisher, and Mary Brown Wanamaker Warburton, were the original owners of Villa des Cygnes, a Mizner-designed Venetian-style estate on the Intracoastal Waterway at the west end of Worth Avenue. Father Barclay H. Warburton II (1898-1936 ) died from a fatal gunshot wound, ruled an accidental shooting. After BWH III’s parents divorced, his mother, Rosamond Lancaster, married W. K. Vanderbilt. Warburton’s ship was the 51-foot Black Pearl, a black, square-sailed Brigantine, that he sailed around the world. His Newport restaurant, the Black Pearl, was named for his brigantine. A vice-president of Palm Beach’s Sailfish Club, Warburton was key in organizing the American Sail Training Association, the organization that brought the Tall Ships to Newport, Philadelphia, and Boston to celebrate the nation’s Bicentennial. Edith Cates and Warburton married in 1966.

HRH at Palm Beach. Edward sunbathing. [©Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]

Edward, Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) – Wallis and Edward were houseguests of Ambassador Arthur Gardner and his wife Susie on South Ocean Boulevard before moving onto Anita Young at The Towers on North County Road. Their spring 1964 visit was highlighted by dinner with Alfonso and Lillian Fanjul on Kawama Lane and an intimate dinner for twelve at Amado hosted by Gurnee Jr’s uncle, Charles Munn. Upon the Windsors’ return to Europe, they made plans to visit the uber-chic Marbella Club, as Anita Young announced plans to demolish The Towers, where her husband, railroad financier Robert Young took his own life in 1958. For the following season, the Windsors made plans to stay at The Colony as construction got underway on Young’s new mansion Montsorrel.

The Towers. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Palm Beach. March 17, 1965. Godmother Anita Young, 3rd from left, at 15-month-old Cornelia Guest’s christening at the Royal Poinciana Chapel. At Young’s left, Chris Dunphy and Lorelle Hearst. [Morgan Collection, Florida Memory, State Archives of Florida]

Anita Ten Eyck Young  (1892-1985) – The sister of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Young shuttled between Fairholme, her Newport mansion, and Palm Beach. After she demolished The Towers, construction on her more palatial mansion suffered delays. During the Windsors’ 1967 mini-season, they stayed with Arthur and Susie Gardner. That is, until Mr. Gardner died suddenly during their stay. The Duke was bestowed a Palm Beach houseguest’s ultimate honor, serving as an honorary pallbearer at Gardner’s memorial service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. The following spring, the Windsors checked into their Montsorrel royal suite.

Jean and Sandy Kellogg – Nonie Kellogg’s brother-in-law Sandy, a sailing enthusiast, was associated with Larchmont’s  Storm Trysail Club.


Henry Stillman “Stilly” Taylor (1918-1985) – The recipient of a Silver Star during WW II for his bravery operating torpedo boats, Taylor was president of the J. P. Stevens Inc., a textile company. He was first married to Vivian Stokes whose family-owned Villa Giardino on Peruvian Avenue for many years. An Oyster Bay resident and well-known yachtsman, Stilly was also part of The Colony’s croquet set. His daughter Barbara married John Drayton Cochran in 1971.

(Thomas Jackson) Oakley Rhinelander (1920-1989) – The son of Philip Rhinelander, Oakley Rhinelander was a director of the family’s Rhinelander Real Estate Co. and associated with the Douglas Elliman real estate concern.

Francis Dring Wetherill (1916-2013) – Wetherill’s first wife was Fernanda Pauline Wanamaker. In 1950, he married Aimee du Pont Wickes (1920-1997), the daughter of Eugene Irénée du Pont (1873-1954). A longtime Delray Beach resident, Wetherill was part of Constellation syndicate, winner of the 1964 America’s Cup.

Gertrude Gretsch Coletti Astor Perucca (1919-1997) – Her 1944 marriage to John Jacob “Jakey” Astor VI (1912-1992) ended in a 1955 divorce. Their daughter Mary Jacqueline was born in 1949. Jakey’s mother Madeline Talmage Astor survived the Titanic sinking in 1912; his father JJA IV did not.  Gertrude married Sonio Coletti-Perucca in 1961.

John W. Handel Jr.  – Handel was a member of the Constellation crew with Buddy Bombardwinning the America’s Cup in 1964 against the British challenger, SovereignNewspaper scion Eric Ridder skippered, and  Walter Gubelmann managed the Constellation’s syndicate with 31 investors. 

Leo “Buddy” Bombard Jr. (1932-2022) – A Bronxville, New York resident, Bombard was part of the Constellation’s foredeck crew for the 1964 America’s Cup. An experienced ocean racer and Dartmouth graduate, Bombard’s first America’s Cup competition was in 1958. Thus, “he knew everyone in Newport …” His New York-based Chalet Club expanded from ski trips to Vermont into worldwide adventure travel, hot-air balloon trips over French and Italian vineyards, sky diving, and whitewater rafting.

Hugh Sommerville – One of England’s leading yachtsmen and ocean racers, Sommerville was an honorary commodore at the Warwickshire Yacht Club. Sommerville became a noted sailing journalist and editor. During the 1964 America’s Cup at Newport, he was the spokesman for the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

Newport was a flurry of events for the America’s Cup races in September 1964, as more than 1,000 guests attended the America’s Cup Ball. Chauncey Stillman hosted 300 at The Elms for the Royal Thames Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club’s crews past and present flag officers. Walter Gubelmann gave a dinner dance for 300 at Bailey Beach. Phil and Minnie Miller also gave a dinner dance in honor of the America’s Cup.

Fall, 1964. Bailey’s Beach, Newport. John F.  Kennedy Jr. In August 1964, a month before the America’s Cup, John-John Kennedy was at Bailey’s Beach for a swim. With her children encamped in Newport, Jackie and sister Lee Radziwill were aboard the Wrightsman’s yacht off Port Ercole.  [©Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]


DeWitt CoffmanWashington hotel executive at the Hotel Commodore, Coffman became president of International Hotel Management, operator of the Miami-based Prestige Resorts.

Louise deKoven Wanamaker (1922-2017– Philadelphia and Boca Grande’s Louise Wanamaker was akin to Chicago’s W. McCormick Blairs. She was a nationally ranked tennis player and champion ice dancer. Her grandmother and namesake Louise DeKoven Bowen was a founder of Arcadia National Park and regarded as one of Chicago’s best-known philanthropists, as well as author of the biographical Growing Up With A City (MacMillan, 1926).

Commodore John Rodman Wanamaker (1918-2004) – Gurnee Jr.’s cousin was the son of Pauline Disston Wanamaker (1896-1956) and Captain John Nelson Wanamaker. The Commodore married Louise deKoven in 1940. The Wanamaker’s son, J. Rodman ”Roddy” Wanamaker II (1944-2008) became a ship’s captain in 1980. At Boca Grande, you could find Wanamaker at the docks where he ran a tarpon fishing charter boat. Later, aboard the Cheeka, he ran a deep-sea fishing business in Longport, New Jersey. The Wanamaker family sold their 16-store chain to LA’s Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc. for $60 million in 1978.

Evarts “Zig” Ziegler (1917-1990) – Zig, Princeton ’38, was another OSS veteran, who became an A-list Hollywood literary agent for directors, producers, writers. His firm, Ziegler, Heilman & Ross, merged with ICM in 1983. Among Zig’s clients, Mario Puzo and William Goldman.

Woolworth Donahue (1913-1972) and Mary Donahue  (1927-2020) – In late December 1964, Wooly, 51, married Teen Town host and former Super Circus baton twirler Mary Hartline Carlson, 36, his 3rd, her 4th. Woolie’s previous marriage to cocktail waitress Judith “Baby Doll” Church ended in 1961. Mary Donahue “remodeled” Casa Nana in 1971, enclosing the open spiral staircase that was similar to Louwana’s Venetian staircase. A year later, Woolie’s cousin Barbara Hutton visited with them, making for her first visit to Palm Beach since the 1950s. The following month, Woolie died at age 59, remembered as “gregarious, athletic, and most importantly, romantic … one of the better playboys.” Shortly after Woolie’s death, Mary bought the Hartline, a 98-foot Feadship. In 1980, Mary Donahue sold Casa Nana, the iconic Mizner-designed, twenty-room house at 780 South County Road, for $3.2 million. [Photo ©Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]

Vicenzo Zito (1900-1966). Chris Dunphy and Michael Phipps, as drawn by Zito, Palm Beach’s favorite caricature artist during the 1960s. When I wrote a feature on Zito for the Palm Beach Daily News in 2010, the response from readers was so overwhelming the paper ran another story on Zito the following Sunday. Wally Findlay gave a party for Palm Beach’s most notable where they were ushered into a room to find 50 covered works of art. When Findlay removed the covers, guests found themselves staring at Zito’s rendering of themselves. Zito died in 1966, leaving no known relatives but a town that 40 years later evidently still appreciated his talent and humor. [Images Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]


Aimée de Heeren. [Photo Augustus Mayhew, 2006}

Aimée de Heeren (1903-2006) and daughter Cristina de Heeren Noble. Artist Alejo Vidal-Quadras (1919-1994) – Aimée was regarded as “the personification of elegance.” Named to the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1996, several online biographies refer to Aimée as a “secret service agent,” adding to her legendary mystique.

Geoffrey Jones – A former television and theatrical producer, Jones was best known for his WW II clandestine missions and medals as president of the Veterans of the OSS. Jones commanded the OSS in Nice, credited with “liberating the French Riviera.” Jones was known “to always be seen at the better parties,” a reminder of the time when if you saw the OSS Directory on a Palm Beach coffee table, you knew you had arrived at Palm Beach’s inner sanctum. Appropriately, Jones ran the El Morocco (“The Elmo”) as a private club during the 1970s.


Albert Putnam “Pat” Humphreys (1911-1990) and Odette Nicole Humphreys – In 1933, Humphreys was youngest member of the New York Stock Exchange. A champion downhill skier and life member of the Corviglia Club, the Denver-Palm Beach based bon vivant and diamond merchant donated his Etruscan antiquities to The Met. Their 96-foot yacht the Golden Scimitar, later aka Mariner III, was donated to Palm Beach Atlantic College.

William Horace Schmidlapp (1916-1987) – Regarded as a true sportsman, Schmidlapp’s mile-a-minute lifestyle took a wide latitude, whether backing a race car or financing a Broadway production. Born in Cincinnati and schooled in France, his fortune was based on his family’s breweries and manufacturing concern, the Monitor Stove and Range Company. Horace’s marriage in 1945 to actress Carole Landis was short-lived, separating after two years, and ending the following year, when she took her life. In 1958, he and Patricia McClintock (1917-2015) married at the Everglades Club. Seven months later, her daughter Patricia McClintock wed Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, one of actress Elizabeth Taylor’s string of ex-husbands, at the Plaza Hotel. Horace adopted his wife’s other daughter Victoria McClintock who married film producer H. Gray Frederickson in 1970.

G. F. “Reggie” Di Varmo(1905-1998) – St. Louis.

1145 North Lake Way, Palm Beach. Gurnee Munn Jr., left, daughter Bridget Munn, and son, Gurnee Munn III. [Private Collection]

Eight Bells

Gurnee died on May 27, 1978, at his North Lake Way home.

His death followed a spiraling three-year chain of events — health concerns, divorce, marriage, trust agreements, and at the end, disparate theories as to the circumstances surrounding the cause of his death, resulting in court proceedings.

Three months after Gurnee’s marriage to Peggy Keohane was dissolved on April 6, 1975, he and Suzanne flew to Las Vegas and were married. Court clerk documents at Clark County, Nevada, indicate Gurnee Munn Jr. and Suzanne Lacheze Delchambre married on July 23, 1975. Two years earlier, court records indicate that in September 1973 Suzanne Delchambre changed her name legally to Suzanne Lacheze. A new trust agreement was drawn up, designating the 3rd Mrs. Munn as his executor and principal beneficiary. That December, Gurnee deeded the sizable North Lake Way house to the revocable trust set-up the previous year. Despite evidence questioning the trust agreement’s validity, Circuit Court Judge James R. Stewart ruled in favor of accepting it as Munn executed it in 1976.

Too often at Palm Beach, when an estate of some means is in play, children from previous marriages who question these seemingly “last-minute” wills are sidelined by a phalanx of lawyers from 3rd, 4th, or 5th wives, non-profit organizations, trust officers, and professional executors.

While we may never know what happened to Gurnee Munn Jr., his ship stands ready for the next owner’s global pursuit of every horizon. However distant, the Island Waters guest book remains, an intimation of the people and places that Gurnee made a part of his 20th-century journey.

September 14, 1962
America’s Cup Dinner
The Breakers, Newport

I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea and the light are forever changing, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.

September 1962. America’s Cup, Newport. President John F. Kennedy, Marella Agnelli, Gianni Agnelli, and Pierre Salinger. [KN-C24057. Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston]

September 2022
Island Waters: The Mongoose @ Coconut Grove

The Mongoose at Dinner Key, Pier 2. Coconut Grove. $395,000. Contact: Donald Lord Jones @ Yacht World {Photo Augustus Mayhew]

The Mongoose is a classic teak-decked long-range vessel powered by Cat D-342’s and twin Cat 40 KW DSL generator sets. According to yacht records, Island Waters was first listed for sale under its original name in 2008. It then became known as the John Isaacs and the Cherokee V before renamed the Mongoose.

From the Mongoose, a view of the world at the far end of Pier 2, Dinner Key Marina, Coconut Grove. [ Photo Augustus Mayhew]

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