North Bay Village, which rose from Biscayne Bay as a string of fill islands in the 1940s, once hosted Rat Pack-era nightclubs, mobsters, and thousands of snowbirds.
It’s now a bustling, family-friendly community with a thriving business district and upscale high-rises.
The mayor who presided over much of the sometimes painful transformation was a chiropractor from the Bronx: Dr. Paul Vogel, who served from 1982-1998.
He was still a village commissioner when he died Tuesday at North Shore Medical Center, apparently of heart failure, said daughter Valerie Gorwitz.
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He had a history of cardiac problems dating to the late 1980s.
Born Feb. 25, 1928, he was 84.
“Paul Vogel is responsible for putting North Bay Village on the map, going from a sleepy community to a more family-oriented community, to what we are today,” said Commissioner Richard Chervony.
He added that Vogel had three great loves in life: “His wife, his children and the city,’’ and on any given day, one might supplant the other as his priority.
Vogel took over during a time when North Bay Village politics was notoriously dysfunctional. Vogel worked to build consensus and stability, Chervony said.
During his tenure, the city got a Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue squad. It saw a dramatic drop in crime. Trash was collected more frequently.
Vogel commissioned the bust of President John F. Kennedy that faces traffic heading east over the Kennedy Causeway from Northeast 79th Street on the mainland.
He secured a U.S. Post Office for North Bay Village residents, and with the commission, arranged for residents to use the Treasure Island Elementary School tennis and basketball courts after school hours.
“It was a very calm, well run city,” said Al Blake, a commissioner and vice mayor during Vogel’s administration. “The commission agreed to disagree. We had a stable city manager. We had a stable city attorney. We were able to work well together.”
In 2010, the city honored his long public service by renaming a Harbor Island park the Dr. Paul Vogel Community Park.
Earlier this year, some residents began to wonder if Vogel, who’d had a stroke six years ago, ought to step down from the commission. But Marietta Kalman Vogel, his wife of 50 years, told The Miami Herald that her husband “loved’’ the city to which they moved some 40 years ago.
“He served the city well,’’ she said. “He always said, ‘This is my city.’”
Vogel, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, graduated from chiropractic college in Indianapolis, and once served as a New York City Roller Derby team’s chiropractor.
After coming to South Florida, he opened an office at Northeast 24th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, later moving to Northeast 74th Street and Biscayne.
He held leadership positions on the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine and the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.
Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps, who served with Vogel on the commission for the past year, called Vogel “a very dedicated public servant.’’
He was “eloquent,’’ and approached the job with “diplomacy,’’ she said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Vogel is survived by sons Andrew and Peter.
Funeral services are planned for 1 p.m. Thursday at Blasberg Rubin-Zilbert funeral home, 720 71st St., Miami Beach. Burial follows at Lakeside Memorial Park, 10301 NW 25th St., Doral.