The Jerusalem Post
‘Even if you didn’t know her, she touched you’
Missing former New Yorker Linda March loved Surfside condo, ‘knew everyone,’ says friend
NEW YORK – Paula Silverman described her best friend Linda March as the “quintessential New Yorker.”
Like New Yorkers often do, the Jewish lawyer traded in her cramped Upper West Side apartment for the fresh air and ocean views of South Florida.
After suffering a bout of COVID in 2020, March, 58, moved to the Miami suburb Surfside, where she rented Penthouse 4 at Champlain Towers, eager for a new start following a challenging year.
As of Tuesday, March was one of the scores of residents still unaccounted for as rescue workers searched frantically for the victims.
March, who lived alone, was divorced and never had children. She lost her sister over a decade ago to cancer and subsequently both of her parents died.
“You could tell she had this underlying pain she was pushing away, with so many losses,” Silverman told The Jerusalem Post.
But March was far from companionless.
“She knew everyone. You’d walk down the street and you’d see her talking to the mailman, talking to everybody, giving out masks to everybody. A heart of gold,” Silverman recalled.
She was also raring to help free of charge when friends needed legal help, according to Silverman.
“We were tremendously close. We were in touch daily,” Silverman, 56, added.
She and March’s older sister, Lisa, were friends first, after meeting in a Manhattan sukkah in the fall of 2004.
“I told her I loved her highlights and asked at what salon she gets them done,” Silverman reminisced. “We were instant friends after that and she introduced me to Linda.”
After a rare form of cancer took Lisa’s life in 2010, Silverman found comfort by spending time with March, she said, who eventually became one of her closest friends.
“We went through everything together,” Silverman said. “Passovers in New Jersey with her parents, everything. We had this special bond because I lost my sister, too.”
Silverman said March always loved New York and “had that Brooklyn twang in her voice.”
Together, the pair would paint the town red.
“We just loved doing city things; shows and dinners, Bette Midler and Ricky Martin concerts.”
But after COVID struck the city, and crime rose, the lawyer felt “trapped.”
“She’s always loved visiting Miami and had her heart set on the Surfside neighborhood,” Silverman said. “She found a gorgeous penthouse with two bedrooms, she could use the second room as an in-home office, and a huge wrap-around balcony overlooking the ocean. She was excited about starting this next phase of her life.”
Silverman said March was “always joking around,” and that the duo was constantly laughing. She had a raunchy and sarcastic side, which Silverman compared to the late comedian Joan Rivers.
But Silverman also noted that her friend had a serious disposition and she expressed grave concerns about Champlain Towers. According to Silverman, just days before the collapse, March texted that she was looking to move. She said her friend was “miserable.”
Silverman said March’s primary complaint was about the noise outside of the building due to construction.
“Constant drilling, which she was not warned about,” Silverman related. “She was suffering in that apartment. The stress caused her neck to go out and she ended up in a brace. She was there for three months and didn’t have a moment’s peace,” Silverman continued.
“My biggest regret is that I didn’t go down there and help her move out and look for a new apartment.”
Silverman’s last correspondence with March occurred just hours before the condominium fell and the penthouse was ripped apart, at approximately 1 a.m. the next morning. Silverman had run into Kayleigh McEnany on Sixth Avenue in New York City. She snapped a photo with the former White House press secretary under the Trump administration and texted it to her friend.
“Did you ask her when we can meet Trump?” March responded.
“Soon. Step by step. She gave me both her email addresses,” Silverman answered.
“Yessssssssss. MAGA!” March texted back, adding the United States and Israeli flag emojis.
Silverman said March excitedly shared the photo on Facebook, her last post, and wrote, “my great friend Paula and Kayleigh McEnany in Manhattan!!! Two great women.”
“We texted back and forth until about 10:30 p.m. about the New York City mayoral election,” Silverman recalled. “She was very into politics.”
THE NEXT morning, Silverman woke up to the news of a building collapse. Frantically, she sent a message to her friend. She never heard back.
“I was paralyzed for the next three days,” she said. “And the news keeps showing her apartment, over and over, the one with the bunk beds.”
Silverman noted that March was also a pillar of the Jewish community, both in New York and in Surfside, which has a population of about 6,000, one third of which is Jewish.
“She was very charitable, any little thing she would open up her wallet. She would anticipate exactly what people needed,” Silverman said. “She would say tehillim [psalms] and sit shiva for anyone who passed away, regardless of whether she knew them.”
“Now, we’ve put together a group to pray for her,” Silverman said, adding that she does not believe her friend will be found alive.
“Everybody loves Linda. Jews and non-Jews, they’re all saying tehillim for her because she’s one of those people that even if you didn’t know her, she touched you.”
“This is killing me,” Silverman continued, holding back tears. “It’s so painful and a tremendous loss. She was young and ready for the next stage of her life. I can’t wrap my head around it.”