A scoutmaster who built one of the most successful Boy Scout programs in the country. The “face of Joe’s Stone Crab.” The Grand Dame of Mambo. The Miami Beach lighting whiz who inspired many of the stories in the TV series and coming film, Magic City.
South Florida is seldom short of distinctive, storied lives to share and celebrate. We told you of the federal magistrate who swore in 200,000 new citizens. A survivor of the Haiti earthquake who brightened others’ lives with his music and a 115-year-old former teacher who was Puerto Rico’s oldest woman ever. Genes and a daily shot of brandy helped get her to that point.
As 2015 comes to a close, we take a look back at some of the notable names who helped give South Florida its pulse and whom we lost in the calendar year.
Jan. 20: Barbara Craddock, 74. Cuban Pete’s mambo partner who helped popularize the Latin dance in 1960s and ’70s New York and South Florida.
Jan. 25: Cristobal Mendoza, 71. Nicaraguan community activist, formed the Comite de Nicaraguenses Pobres en el Exilio to help exiles seek legal status in the United States.
Jan. 28: Rose McDaniel, 85. The “face” of Miami Beach culinary landmark, Joe’s Stone Crab, greeted customers — Frank Sinatra and Frank Sinatra fan, alike — for decades.
Feb. 12: Harold Hendrix, 92. Pulitzer Prize-winner from The Miami News who was the first American journalist to report that there were Soviet missiles in Cuba two weeks before the Kennedy administration announced the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
March 4: Len Firestone, 93. Pioneered syndicated television when TV was in its infancy. Sold Sea Hunt, The Rifleman, distributed games shows To Tell the Truth, Beat the Clock and The Gong Show.
March 8: David Ziska, 83. Scoutmaster of Troop 457 produced nearly 300 Eagle Scouts since he got involved locally with the Boy Scouts in 1985 — a number practically unheard of in scouting.
March 11: Adelina Fernández, 83. Co-founder, with her husband, of Miami’s Caserita Foods in 1969, eight years after arriving from Cuba “with $27 and a dream.”
March 12: Michael Graves, 80. Famed architect behind South Beach’s 1500 Ocean, The Humana Building in Kentucky, The Portland Building in Oregon and a line of household products at Target.
March 15: Mary Thomas, 93. Developed, with her husband, Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Coral Way in 1975, which led to the enduring annual Lebanese Festival.
April 7: Naomi Wilzig, 80. Owner of the World Erotic Art Museum on Miami Beach, she was a self-appointed “crusader to get John Q. Public to accept that erotic art is out there. We accept violence, but we go crazy over the idea of a nude body.”
April 20: Muriel Rudolph, 91. Home designer for stars like Jackie Gleason, philanthropist, grandmother to actress Maya Rudolph.
April 24: Sid Tepper, 96. Songwriter for many of Elvis Presley’s movies, including G.I. Blues, Viva Las Vegas.
May 4: Samuel Crispin, 90. Founder of Miami ad agency, Samuel B. Crispin and Associates.
May 10: Kelley Mitchell, 58. Local radio (WLRN, WIOD), TV (WSVN, WPLG) news anchor, who shared her story about battling breast cancer, and her Corgi’s cancer fight, with readers.
May 15: Jeanne Westphal, 85. Guiding force in the growth of Miami-Dade’s tourism industry.
June 2: Antonia Gerena Rivera, 115. Teacher was Florida’s oldest woman and Puerto Rico’s oldest woman ever.
July 2: Eldridge Williams, 97. One of the last Tuskegee Airmen, Richmond Heights Middle physical education teacher.
Aug. 8: Jack Admire, 87. Attorney, philanthropist who helped establish CHARLEE program that helps abused, neglected children.
Aug. 10: Alvin Burger, 82. Founder of Bugs Burger Bug Killers extermination company and Pinecrest’s Roasters ’n Toasters, where he created cream cheese filled Bagel Balls in 1991.
Sept. 2: Dr. James Cosmides, 72. Coral Gables dermatologist, Vietnam battlefield surgeon.
Oct. 3: William Gladstone, 85. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge, children’s advocate who transformed a system.
Oct. 5: Antoine Romel Joseph, 56. Violinist was famous survivor of Haiti earthquake in 2010.
Oct. 9: Larry Rosen, 75. Jazz Roots producer for the Arsht Center and co-founder of contemporary jazz label, GRP.
Nov. 9: Irving Whitman, 94. Miami’s first Jewish police officer. Later, the attorney who arranged the 1969 “Super Fight” between Muhammad Ali and a retired Rocky Marciano.
Nov. 13: Peter Palermo, 97. Federal magistrate who swore in more than 200,000 new American citizens.
Nov. 14: Preston Marshall, 79. Educator who founded the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Liberty City in 1977.
Nov. 30: Arthur Teitelbaum, 77. Southern area director of the Anti-Defamation League, tireless voice for all communities who have known discrimination.
Dec. 12: Gregory Wolfe, 93. Florida International University’s third president, from 1979 to 1986, who oversaw major growth, including move to full four-year program, building of dorms and new schools.
Dec. 14: Leonard Glazer, 93. Electrical engineer and lighting designer who worked alongside noted architects Morris Lapidus and Alfred Parker Browning during the boom years of Miami in the 1950s and ’60s. He lit the Fontainebleau, Eden Roc, Deauville and Carillon hotels in Miami Beach and was the inspiration for stories and a character on producer/writer son Mitch Glazer’s TV series and coming movie, Magic City.
Dec. 19: Sylvia Sheldon, 75. President and scholarship chair of the Coral Gables Music Club. She taught pre-school music for decades and took in two foster children as her own, which led one, 26 years later, to say: “Sylvia taught me spiritual lessons that restored my faith in people and in myself.”