Like dozens of other Pinecrest residents, Margaret Kurtzman makes a routine of walking along the canal on Red Road. But instead of two-pound weights and Beats headphones, she grips a white plastic trash bag, pausing every few paces to reach for empty bottles scattered across the damp grass.
“When I was in England, they were advertising for people not to litter with an ad that said ‘Every litter bit hurts.’ It kind of stuck with me,” said Kurtzman, who grew up about 100 miles west of London.
Although the farming community did not have a lot of money, there was a constant respect and concern for the well being of one’s neighbor.
But the village was a closed society for women with ambition, so at 21 Kurtzman left home to become a flight attendant for Pan Am. For three years, she flew all over the world. On her return, she found little had changed, and moved to New York, where she met her future husband.
“When I met her in New York I was blown away by her, I had never met anybody like that and a lot of it deals with her upbringing,” Jerry Kurtzman said.
They moved to Pinecrest in the mid-1970s.
The morning routine began 43 years ago when she began regular visits with her neighbor, Gladys Hamer, who had recently suffered the death of her blind son.
“I’d drop in and make sure elderly people who lived on their own were OK in the morning. They always knew I was coming,” she said.
Hamer became the first of many neighbors to be touched by the kindness and social responsibility that Kurtzman would display throughout the community.
“She wants Pinecrest to shine and she does it every day. She still walks to my house always with a bag full of garbage,” said Kurtzman’s longtime friend and retired Miami-Dade schoolteacher, Ricki Wehye.
Kurtzman said she hopes to spread her ways by example to the larger Pinecrest community. Such qualities, she believes, require minimal effort yet are absent among many of the city’s younger residents.
Each day, it seems, more and more people recognize and appreciate Kurtzman’s example.
“I see her every morning and she always says hi. She’s an asset to this community and everyone should know about her,” said Pinecrest resident Mari Pinero.
Kurtzman continues to reach out to neighbors and provides clothes and school supplies to impoverished local families.
“It doesn’t take a lot to say hi to people and you never know what’s happening with them. We all live in the same community so you have to keep an eye out for everyone,” said Kurtzman.
Kurtzman currently serves as the president of the Pinecrest Civic Association and the CEO of the oldest established executive recruiting firm in Florida, Corporate Advisers. As the first female owner of the executive search firm, Kurtzman said she built the company from the ground up using her experience, maturity and wisdom.
“Her innate personality, warmth and caring for people pinpoint her success and have been the hallmark of her personality,” Jerry Kurtzman said. “She is one of the most extraordinary people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.”