21-Plus & Holding

Senior activist Margaret Weedman loves the Bible, the Golden Rule, and Rudyard Kipling

"A lot of elected officials shudder to think that one day someone might go in there and read that information," jokes John Stokesberry, the former executive director of the Alliance for Aging.

"This resource will be her legacy," observes friend Mike Hatcher, a fellow activist who often drives Margaret home from various committee meetings. "It's a great service she provides to the community."

But it's not without a weighty cost. For years Weedman has spent one-third of her monthly income (roughly $170) maintaining a U-Haul space where she keeps some of her papers and belongings. Just a month ago, she was threatened with eviction because her papers were declared a fire hazard. With her archives endangered, Weedman's friends rallied around her. A fleet from the Alliance for Aging filled 30 boxes with documents and stored them in a backroom at their own small offices on South Dadeland Boulevard -- waiting for Margaret to come and sort through them. Another friend offered her space in his storage facility.

Hanging tough: A half-hour with Margaret Weedman tends to dispel self-pity
Steve Satterwhite
Hanging tough: A half-hour with Margaret Weedman tends to dispel self-pity

For now, the threat of eviction seems to have been averted.

It was the least anyone could do for their "darling Margaret," says long-time friend Ginger Grossman, who serves with Weedman on the Alliance for Aging's board of directors.

"If anyone is ever feeling sorry for themselves, they should spend half an hour with Margaret and realize how precious life is. She's one feisty, amazing lady," Grossman says, praising Weedman's altruism and unfailing activism. She says she sees Margaret as the last in a sort of dying breed. "We could use many, many more Margaret Weedmans, and they've just thrown away that mold," she says.

"She has always taken up the challenge for the downtrodden, even when it wasn't fashionable. She sees wrongs and just wants to correct them," Hatcher agrees. "She always seems able to empathize and put the needs of others above her own. I've even heard stories of her missing meals to go to meetings.

"She should serve as an admonishment to people who don't take the time to get involved," he concludes.

Talking on the phone after the frustration of yet another inconclusive county commission meeting one recent afternoon, Margaret already was making back-up plans while warming up her lunch of frozen lasagna with meat sauce. (She buys these meals in packs of four, for five dollars apiece.) Perhaps in the end the county will never monitor the STS, but Weedman will continue pushing for a better contract, which is slated to come up for renegotiation in September 2002. As soon as her wheelchair is repaired, she promises, she'll resume traveling again. She'll go from meeting to meeting, armed with her sense of moral imperative, her bag of papers, and the business cards recently donated by a person she'll only describe as a "friend" in Mayor Alex Penelas's office.

"If I've gone through what I've gone through and I'm still breathing, then I think I'm going to live to be 600 years old at least," she says. "I'll be a female Methuselah."

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