a-richard-kaplan

The Mayor of Margaritaville

Chances are, those of you who have been around for a few years recognize this mountain of a man, a larger-than-life entertainer and promoter of this town he so loved. During the 30-plus years he called Puerto Vallarta home, he regaled hundreds of thousands of visitors with songs and stories about it; interviewed just about everyone who was anyone on its shores for numerous English-language publications — “Vallarta Lifestyles” among them; and gave Puerto Vallarta its official song, “Vallarta” touching a chord with all who feel as he did: “He who lets the dust of Vallarta settle on his soul will find it hard to ever let her magic go.”

A religious man, he was also a lay minister, uniting many a happy couple on our beaches. And when he wasn’t busy doing the above, he was hosting his own radio show, selling real estate and, most of all, taking advantage of any excuse to celebrate in a big way.

Dying this past New Year’s Eve, a long-time companion pointed out in his eulogy that going out with a bang on that night-of-all-nights for celebrating is exactly how he would have wanted to make his exit.

Born April 29, 1939, in Des Plaines, Illinois, he was a champion wrestler in high school, enlisting in the army after graduating. Stationed in Germany, he worked as a journalist and photographer, and then moved to New York, where he was an editor at “Women’s Wear Daily.” Moving here in the ‘70s, his enthusiasm about the place was so infectious and his public persona so big that when the twice-married Richard dubbed himself “The Mayor of Margaritaville” and “Puerto Vallarta’s Good Will Ambassador” the monikers stuck. Show biz through and through, he added a tremendous amount of color to the town, and we miss him.