A LIFETIME OF COMMITMENT
The Evolution of a Family’s History From Immigrants
to Nazi Camp Survivors to an American Life of Service
At the outset of my legal career I was privileged to work on cases in the highest court in the land and argue cases in various United States Courts of Appeals. Where else could a “raw recruit” be given the task of handling major drug, organized crime and police corruption cases so early in his career? A year and a half into my tenure in D.C. I was offered and accepted an opportunity to join the ground floor of the restructuring of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh by newly elected D.A. Robert Colville.
I would eventually try or co-try upwards of 200 cases, including, as a member of the specialty Narcotics Squad, two high profile and successful prosecutions of well-known physicians and their co-conspirators for illicit drug operations. Just the same, Florida beckoned.
My legal career in Florida began with a stint with the Florida Attorney General’s office. In 1979, I and a colleague began our own two-person law firm. As the first business I and he ever owned, it was a challenging endeavor. But it soon gave way to another challenge—politics.
By late 1981, it had become apparent to me that local government in Palm Beach County had, in many areas, fallen far behind the needs of a county quickly transitioning into a major metropolitan area. The birth of our first child had focused my attention more on schools, recreation, environment, safety and all other aspects of having a healthy environment for the raising of a child. I felt that county government was not adequately addressing those needs. In a spur of the moment decision that surprised me as much as Monica, I decided to run for a seat on the County Commission against an incumbent of my own party—a well-known former mayor of West Palm Beach.
Against all odds, the entire political establishment, my campaign manager’s expectations, and even my own, I won. And so began an experience that, in many ways, shaped the rest of my life.
Getting Things Done
It was a successful four year term. I managed to avoid being pigeon-holed politically; a complete turnover of commissioners in a two year period led to a transformative board; and Palm Beach County was set on a path of modernization and dynamic growth, economically, civically, and culturally. I spent one year as chairman of the board and, overall, received significant commendation for my service.
Working With People
Invitations & Recognitions
Moving Past Politics
Nonetheless, facing virtually no opposition for re-election and being encouraged by many to run for higher office, I passed, having found the demands of office while maintaining the semblance of a law practice was too great a strain on my family, which now included three children, ages 7, 4 and 3.
I never again held elected public office, but over the years I have remained active in community activities. Among those activities I helped create, along with child advocate Elaine Alvarez, State Senate President Harry Johnston and others, the Palm Beach County Children’s Services Council, a taxing entity dedicated solely to children’s needs. I was appointed to serve on the Council by governor Bob Graham. I am a founding member of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, a community based organization dedicated to providing literacy skills to children, adults, and families. I have served this organization for over thirty years, including a two year term as president. During that term I was honored to accept on behalf of the Coalition a Barbara Bush Foundation grant at a White House event.
For twelve years I served on the West Palm Beach Planning Board, appointed by three different mayors, serving as Chairman for ten of those years. For over forty years I have been a member and past president of the local chapter of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a fraternal organization founded to fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry and hatred. Since 2004 I have been a member of the board of directors of the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission, serving as Chair from 2005-2021. I have served these organizations and others as I continued my law practice and after my retirement from the practice of law in 2016.
Another project I have been engaged in is the telling of a family story—a story of the suffering, bravery, and survival of my mother and grandmother during World War II—a story I wasn’t even aware of until I turned 16. The story of how my mother (pictured here) and her mother survived an impossible reality that led to my prosperous life today offers many lessons for future generations. First and foremost is that much of history gets lost with age. We need to ask more questions to understand more about each other as each era leads to the next. I'm happy that my mother was not defeated by her past and could offer me such happiness being the loving mother she became after WWII. The ideals she and my father passed on to me and my siblings, as developed through their life experiences, among which was surviving war, are the ideals my wife and I have sought to instill in our family as well.
A Hero's Legacy
This picture sums up what the WWII generation gave to everyone - victory and healing over evil and violence. It is hard for me to reconcile that one of these people was my mother. How can anyone learn to smile again after going through such tragedy? How can someone bring so much happiness to three generations more? That's the lesson of the World War II generation and the lesson of America. My mother brought this home to us - she gave us a future based on character and the belief in democracy, and doing the right thing no matter the cost.