Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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September 18th, 2009

Remembering Sullivan County legend Nat Kagan

He was a butcher, hotel owner, Mayor, Town Supervisor, and most important a sweet loving and caring human being. My dear and beloved friend, Sullivan County legend, Nat Kagan passed away last weekend.

Those who knew Nat knew he was a remarkable person. As a butcher he always cared for his customers, and as an elected official his dedication to his hometown Woodridge and the entire Sullivan County was without a doubt spellbinding.

Most Sullivan County residents knew Nat as the owner and operator of Kagan’s Meat and Poultry. His community involvement and caring for others is what made him a true Sullivan County celebrity.

As past Director of the Woodridge Kiwanis, member of Congregation Ohave Sholom, the Jewish War Veterans, the Lions Club and the Woodridge Fire Department, Nat always left his mark.

His many years of Public and Community Service included Supervisor of the Town of Fallsburg, Mayor of the Village of Woodridge, and a founding member of the Woodridge Youth Commission.

I got to know Nat well during his nightly visits to the Liberty Diner with his sister Pookie, legislator Leni Binder, their friends Doris, Hank, Sheldon, and a diverse group of people who joined them.

Nat was an avid reader of this column and he often told me how much he enjoyed reading it. I remember him telling me, “Sullivan County needs someone like you who has the guts to tell it the way it is, keeping doing what you are doing, don’t stop and don’t be afraid of anyone.”

I looked forward to discussing my columns with him on a weekly basis, and on the rare occasion when he didn’t agree with what I had to say he would let me know.

Of course he would always be angry if I was critical of his niece, legislator Jodi Goodman, or Leni Binder, but it didn’t last too long.

Reminiscing about Nat, Jodi said in all likelihood it was probably her uncle who got her interested in politics in the first place. “I vividly remember going to Nat’s election headquarters and loving the whole thing. I turned to my husband Alan and said ‘boy I can really get into this.’ History in the making and didn’t even know it.”

Nat was someone’s friend even if they quarreled politically. Jodi recalled the time when her mother would not to talk to someone because they disagreed with him, “but then she would be enraged at Nat when she found him eating lunch with that same very person.”

When the old owners of the Laurel’s Hotel did not pay their meat bills, Nat was given the resort in a bankruptcy hearing. Talent Agent Arnold Graham of the Charles Rapp Enterprises recalled, “Nat had taken over the Laurels Country Club, and nightclub MC Murray Waxman introduced me and my partner Howie Rapp to book the talent, I knew Nat because my bought meats from him for years.”

Graham reflecting on the era when hundreds of famous performers were appearing nightly at borscht belt hotels, told me or not so funny story at the time involving Nat. “We booked the Barry Sisters at the hotel, the show just concluded, and I heard Nat screaming like there was a murder. He was yelling that he was not paying for the act no matter what. The Barry Sisters said on stage they had their last chopped liver at the Laurels, because they heard the hotel was closing. Something they never should have said, and Nat was fuming”

“I said let’s go to the coffee shop and have a malted, he calmed him down. He then handed me a check with a picture of a cow on it. I knew it would not bounce because that was from the meat business, and those were the good checks.”

Nat’s close friend Leni Binder who would be seen nightly holding Nat’s arm as they entered the Liberty Diner added, “Nat always wanted to make Sullivan County the best place to be.  He would sit in his car, as if it were an office, and watch the activity and talk to everyone. Even if you disagreed politically, you could not challenge his sincerity.  Parkinson’s robbed him and his family.  Nat Kagan may have been small in stature, but he was a giant in his community.”

Nat Kagan will be deeply missed, May he rest in peace.

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