Women’s Wear Daily
04.20.2014
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Suzy

Mrs. Joseph Verner Reed, the grande dame with the hand that cradled the Waspy rock of Hobe Sound, died recently and left her share of the island, 60 percent of the Jupiter Island Club, to her sons and heirs. Obviously, Permelia Reed...

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Mrs. Joseph Verner Reed, the grande dame with the hand that cradled the Waspy rock of Hobe Sound, died recently and left her share of the island, 60 percent of the Jupiter Island Club, to her sons and heirs. Obviously, Permelia Reed owned the largest number of shares in the club, and now some of her heirs would like to sell them. The club has been assessed at $60 million, but there are members who say that's a high price. So far, they are keeping their checkbooks to themselves.

For years, the Jupiter Island Club resolved its operating losses with profits from its saleable real estate, but the island is now completely developed, down to the last pot of geraniums. There are no more properties for sale. You see, Hobe Sound is terminally exclusive, and once those coconuts settle in, few fall far from the palms.

Permelia Reed liked old money, the Ivy League, athletic grace, good manners, proper attire, afternoon tea at the golf house and her matriarchal reign over that hive of Waspdom 40 minutes north of Palm Beach. She ruled with an iron hand in a silken glove.

Hobe Sound, an enclave of 500 families, like-minded people from such Eastern and Midwestern dynasties as the Warners, Hamms, Fords, Baldwins, Bushes and, of course, Reeds, is reachable by a bridge at each end of the island, and Permelia was the gatekeeper. She was visible everywhere, omnipresent at every game, party and meeting for so many years that nobody remembers when she wasn't there. And they remember too every time she delivered the ultimate insult to a club applicant who didn't appeal to her standards: a dreaded black sweater signifying ostracism to the nth degree. With her rigid set of rules, which did not exclude a sense of fair play, she maintained a superb community and club.

If Hobe Sounders sound stiff and starchy, remember they go to a party every night during the season, but they're not up till all hours hooting and hollering. Wasps like to buzz in the evening, go home early and get up with and go out in the sun. Think you have a chance of crossing the bridge?
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