His opening line would always be: “Do you know who I am?’’
When Vista became the largest BMW dealership “ IN the world,’’ as Dascal used to say, with great emphasis on “in,’’ he could not have been happier.
“I’m extremely proud of the job our team has done in bringing a world-class dealership to South Florida,” Dascal said in 2004. “It’s exciting to create what we believe will be the prototype for the dealership of the future.’’
Indeed, Dascal prized creativity in all things, from the contemporary art he collected to the birthday gifts he received.
He stood 5-foot-9, but was such a huge presence that he seemed to be 6-foot-4, said Continental National Bank President Guillermo Diaz-Rousselot.
He said Dascal’s vision for the bank never wavered, since he told Time in 1974 that it would “enable the immigrants to build the solid foundation that any minority group needs for its own development.’’
“You can see [Dascal’s commitment] by where we are,’’ said Diaz-Rousselot, who joined the bank in 1977. “We never moved to Coral Gables or Brickell, where the traditional money centers are. The bank belonged to the exile community when it started, and we were there to help other migrants.
“That’s our identity.’’
Longtime friend and business partner Lawrence Hoffman, a Greenberg Traurig founder, said Dascal “was trying to support the exile community and integrate it into the larger community. A lot of effort went into that.’’
The bank also became a target of exile-community anger — and, in 1983 a bomb — after then-Vice Chairman Bernardo Benes opened dialogue with the Castro regime that ultimately freed 3,000 political prisoners.
Dascal, who supported Benes, believed that “freeing people behind bars for many years was the right thing to do,’’ said Diaz-Rousselot, “and he was a friend to his friends. His loyalty is insurmountable.’’
One example: Dulce Maria Rojas, known as “Tata,’’ the Dascal daughters’ nanny, now 91. When “Tata” could no longer work, Dascal moved her into a nearby house and hired someone to look after her.
“I can write you pages of those instances,’’ said Diaz-Rousselot.
But Dascal never sought recognition.
“He doesn’t like his picture or his name in the paper,’’ said son-in-law Jonathan.
And neither appeared in 1999, when Dascal, who’d been involved in early wireless dispatch technology with a company called Telair Network Inc. successfully sued Nextel Communications Inc., alleging that one of its attorneys stole his idea for a nationwide wireless system.
Nextel settled for an undisclosed amount the day the case was set for trial in Miami federal court.
And when the ripple effects of Southeast Bank’s 1991 collapse compelled South Motors to seek bankruptcy-court protection, Dascal “handled it by being straightforward and honest,’’ said Hoffman, though South had done nothing wrong. “It was fair to say he was always a businessman who analyzed a situation to make things work, and that was no different.’’
In addition to his wife and daughter Jacqueline, Dascal is survived by daughters Elizabeth Dascal and Karla Dascal, both of Miami Beach.
Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Temple Menorah, 620 75th St., Miami Beach. Burial follows at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, 1125 NW 137th St., North Miami.