There’s a saying by Aristophanes: “A man’s homeland is wherever he prospers.”
I have felt “at home” in the many cities where I have lived and worked, but I have never known a city like Miami, with its strong culture of giving and responsibility mixed with care.
My love for Miami developed many decades ago. My family began visiting Miami Beach in the 1940s, and we fell in love with the area, eventually moving here when I was a young boy in 1954. We settled in the Pinecrest area.
Along with my three older brothers, I loved to fish and dive, and often rode my bike to our favorite spots in the area by Old Cutler Bay, known today as Matheson Hammock and Gables Estates.
Back in the day, my friends and I would sneak into Arthur Vining Davis’ estate (at the time) to get to the stretched canal on his property that led to the bay, where we could catch snapper, grouper and lobster. Davis was an industrialist and philanthropist with extensive real-estate holdings in Florida, and would often come out in his wheelchair to greet us with a warning to be safe.
I attended Pinecrest Elementary School, Palmetto Jr. High School, and graduated from Palmetto Sr. High School in 1970. This was a very special time for me because I met the love of my life – my wife, Dawn.
I can truly say that I had a very happy childhood growing up in South Florida.
I left Miami in 1971 to go to college, and after one year, following my brothers, I joined the armed forces. Three of us were in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. Two of us, including myself, were helicopter pilots, while my other brother was a Green Beret.
Military service was followed by a move to Atlanta, where I completed college and received an MBA at Georgia State University, both with honors and as part of the GI Bill. It was there that one of my professors secured an interview for me at Merrill Lynch.
This is where a new professional journey began.
At Merrill Lynch, I was a stock broker and later a producing sales manager, which led to a full-time managerial role. After several years, my wife and I left the South and spent the next 4 ½ years in the Windy City, Chicago, where my responsibilities included managing several Merrill Lynch offices.
After a successful run in Chicago, I was transferred for the next two years to Princeton, N.J., at Merrill Lynch’s corporate headquarters.
A few years later, I was thrilled to head home to Miami to oversee Merrill Lynch’s Miami-Dade operations. After a 30-year absence, we were back and couldn’t have been happier. We bought our beautiful home in Gables by the Sea and our first boat, which we named “Miami Twice.”
My first day back at work in Miami was Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was a difficult time wherever you were in the world, but certainly here in Miami there was a peculiar vibe. Everyone was looking for an outlet to express their emotions. Our employees channeled theirs by building a house for Habitat for Humanity in Naranja in south Miami-Dade.
Week after week, we had unbelievable volunteer turnouts. There were so many volunteers that we had to buy extra hammers. The house was built in record time. Dawn and I were there with a packed crowd every Saturday, ready to take on any job, despite learning that I was not destined to be a roofer! This endeavor launched the “Culture of Community” among the Merrill Lynch family in Miami that lives on today.
After being promoted to regional manager for the South Florida area in 2006, I was asked once again to move – this time to New York City. However, in 2009, the chance to lead the Latin American division brought me to and through Miami frequently, and I returned permanently at the end of 2010.
I retired this year, ending my 31-year career with Merrill Lynch, I’m proud to have dedicated my entire professional career to one company. When reflecting on my life, I’ve always said: “One wife, one job!”
Dawn and I are thrilled to be home in Miami, for the third time in the same house with the same boat we bought in 2001. We can’t think of a better place to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary.
While there are more chapters to write, we are looking forward to some well-deserved time off for fishing and diving in the warm, beautiful Miami waters and to continue a frequent topic of discussion: Should we rename our boat “Miami Thrice?”