We celebrated my Dad’s 95th birthday today. Friends and family gathered at our home to let Seymour know we love and appreciate him.
His story is a great story.
My Dad grew up in the Great Depression as a first generation American. Like many, he always had boarders in the small apartment he was raised in as my grandparents struggled to get by. He went into the Army Air Corps in 1941 (for $1 a day) and after the war returned to the state he trained in because he liked sunshine, and opportunity seemed to abound here. After the GI bill helped him through law school, he began a near uninterrupted path of public service for 65 years: as a legislative aide in the Florida state senate where he saw the ugliest parts of segregation; a Chief Assistant state attorney in a wild Miami; an Assistant Attorney General in Tallahassee; a Chief Judge in the juvenile court; a mayor (of Miami Beach); and even a professor (he earned his PhD in the 1960’s at FSU).
He and my Mom, a career school teacher who was his opposite in so many ways, were a great pair. If I had to describe his politics it would be conservative about law enforcement, progressive about social issues, but overwhelmingly pragmatic to the extent pragmatism can be a political philosophy.
He has been given so many accolades in life including just this year having the new Miami-Dade children’s courthouse named for him. But I think he is most proud that he and my mom made our family close, loving and supportive.
My old man is a step slower than he was when he played basketball at City College night school (perhaps more than a step since he just started using a walker). But he is fortunate that unlike many others his mind remains quick and his memory is intact.
I am proud of him because he was a devoted husband, a great dad, and sweet grandfather. In his public life, he always looked out for the little guy and was never afraid to pick a fight with a more powerful adversary over a principle in which he believed.
I count my blessings that he is my father. I don’t know that I could have been any luckier.
Happy Birthday Pops.