By day, Malcolm Wiseheart Jr. was a Miami attorney, known for his compassion in real estate and landlord and tenant law.
By night, Wiseheart was a Francophile who loved the French language and its culture so much he helped to create the French International Studies program at Sunset Elementary School in South Miami and Carver Middle School in Coral Gables. He was honored by the French government with the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, given to those distinguished academics and figures in education and culture.
Wiseheart died Jan. 22 at 74 at his home in Coral Gables.
Wiseheart’s father was prominent real estate developer Malcolm Wiseheart Sr., and his uncles were the late Chief Circuit Judge Marshall C. Wiseheart and Prohibition investigator and J. Edgar Hoover assistant J. William Wiseheart.
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Born in Miami on Sept. 18, 1942, Wiseheart grew up in Miami Shores and graduated from Yale University in 1965, earned his master’s in English jurisprudence from Cambridge University in England in 1967 and became a Barrister-at-Law in London.
He earned a second law degree from the University of Florida in 1970. In 1973, he established his firm in Miami in real estate and landlord and tenant law. From 1977 to 1990, he was the special master for the Property Appraisal Adjustment Board for Miami-Dade County.
“He was firm, but deeply compassionate, spoke highly of the tenants he served and was very courteous and meticulous about doing things the right way,” his son William R. Wiseheart said.
In a 1985 Miami Herald article, Miami housing officials lauded Wiseheart for two buildings next to the Coconut Grove Metrorail station as examples of how low-income properties should be maintained. “I’d say 25 percent of gross income should be budgeted for upkeep, that’s what they really require,” Wiseheart said at the time. “You can’t spend no money on maintenance and blame the tenants for the condition of the building.”
President of the Wiseheart Foundation, established by his family in 1953 to provide assistance to schools, churches and charitable organizations, Wiseheart was also involved in leadership roles at L’Alliance Française de Miami and the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Miami.
That love of French culture began with a high school bicycle trip to the French Alps with a pal, his son said. “He would perk up whenever he encountered an opportunity to speak French. If a group of people were speaking French at the table next to us, he would find a way to insert himself into the conversation. He was very charming.”
Wiseheart is also survived by his wife Michele R. Wiseheart, son Malcolm B. Wiseheart III, his sisters Carolyn W. Milne and Elizabeth W. Joyce. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 3400 Devon Rd., Coconut Grove. Donations in Wiseheart’s name can be made to Plymouth or the Yale University Alumni Fund.