Malcolm Fromberg billed himself as a business-minded reformer looking to improve Miami Beach at a time when cronyism and sleazy politics was the norm.
As a well-known attorney, he never intended to be a politician, but all it took was a little bit of persuasion by his friends and business leaders and he was in. His approach got him elected to the Miami Beach commission in 1981 and elected as mayor in 1983.
“Malcolm was very honest and had a great intellect,” said former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin, who was a community activist when Fromberg first was elected. “He really wanted to run the city professionally and in a business-like fashion.”
Fromberg, who served as Miami Beach’s mayor until 1985 and practiced law in Miami-Dade until about four years ago, died Wednesday at a hospital in Albany, New York, from complications of a stroke. He was 81.
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His daughter Alyse Grohowski said her dad was “very civic-minded” and loved being able to play a part in Miami Beach’s growth.
“He played a big role in the revitalization of the Deco District in South Beach and he was very proud of that,” Grohowski said.
Fromberg was born Feb. 23, 1935, in Queens, New York, and grew up in Chicago. He earned an accounting degree from Northwestern University, and his law degree from the University of Michigan. In 1960, he moved to Miami-Dade County to begin practicing law. In 1978, he moved to Miami Beach with his then-wife Arlene and their two children.
Former Miami Beach commissioner Bruce Singer said he and Fromberg were both elected in 1981.
“It was considered the new movement of change in Miami Beach,” he said.
Singer said many important Beach projects began under Fromberg’s administration: South Pointe Park, a new police station, South Beach revitalization.
“He was a no-nonsense straight shooter that had the city’s best interest in mind,” he said. “He would not compromise his personal values to play the political game.”
After serving as mayor, Fromberg stayed in Miami Beach until 2000, when he moved to Coconut Grove. Fromberg, who loved playing tennis and traveling with his wife Doree, practiced law until around 2010.
Grohowski said her father was the reason she decided to practice law.
“I wanted to be just like my father,” she said. “His character, leadership, love for life. He has motivated me in everything I have done.”
In addition to Grohowski and his wife Doree, Fromberg is survived by twin brother Lynn Fromberg, his daughter Risa Schneck, stepsons Gil Epstein, Richard Epstein and Frank Selevan, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
At his own desire, Fromberg was cremated, Grohowski said. The family is planning a memorial in his honor.