To become a city or not?
Often, the expert tapped to draft studies on whether it’s feasible for a community to go its own way bore the imprint of Milan Dluhy, a professor of public administration at Florida International University and director of the school’s Institute of Government.
“He was known as the ‘Incorporation Guru’ for the enormous amount of work he did in South Florida,” said his wife Diane Dluhy.
Dluhy (pronounced Duh-Lou-Hee), was selected by members of the area known as Southwest Ranches when they were weighing options on annexation by Davie or Pembroke Pines or incorporation into an independent Broward County city. The feasibility report released by Dluhy in 1999 suggested a new city was feasible. And so it was done.
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Doral secessionists also sought Dluhy’s expertise in 1995. He was paid $3,000 for a feasibility study of the area’s tax base and its affordable services.
He helped incorporate Key Biscayne in 1991. He tried to get Coconut Grove incorporated, too, but the Grove remains a part of Miami.
“When it comes to the incorporation movement, the train seems to be moving faster than citizen opinion,” Dluhy said in a 1995 Miami Herald story after directing a survey of skeptical Miami-Dade residents on county governments.
Dluhy died at 73 at his Southport, North Carolina home on Nov. 4. “He died in my arms and he died just as he lived: peacefully and gracefully and quietly. He was a humble, incredibly giving and a wonderful person,” said his wife.
The Dluhys came to Miami from the family base of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1985. He had earned his political science and economics degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s in public administration from Southern Illinois University and doctorate in political science and public administration from the University of Michigan.
At Michigan, where he earned tenure, he established his commitment to research projects, publications and community outreach. He held positions with the federal government as a senior policy analyst and intergovernmental program planner for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was also a professor and department chair at various schools, including the University of North Carolina Wilmington and University of Illinois at Springfield.
In Miami, Dluhy, born July 6, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, served on the Blue Ribbon Committee on Financial Recovery for the city and was Miami-Dade County’s vice chair on the Revenue Sharing Task Force. He wasn’t shy about stepping out with views on the city’s leadership and treatment of its citizens.
“You’ve got people running for the Miami mayorship who are on their way down,” he opined in a 1999 Herald story on the mayor’s race in Miami. “Nationally, the mayor’s position is a dead end. It does not lead to the state Legislature, statewide office or Congress.”
Eight years earlier, Dluhy, the author or co-author of 10 books and numerous articles and research grants, wrote a letter to the editorial department praising a Herald story that focused on Miami’s homeless problem. Yet he felt the Herald only told half the story.
“We need to know who the homeless are and what it will take to break their cycle of homelessness. We need to know what the city can do to alleviate the problem. … We need to know why no major political, civic, or business leader will step forward to lead our community toward realistic and feasible solutions,” he wrote.
Dluhy, an avid sailor at Coconut Grove Sailing Club and a runner — he completed 12 marathons, often running with family members and friends from FootWorks in South Miami — was passionate about his adopted South Florida.
“If we refer to our heart’s home I would say Ann Arbor and Coconut Grove,” Diane Dluhy said. The couple moved to North Carolina to be closer to their married daughter in 2001, but couldn’t completely break away from the sun and water. The couple kept a condo in the Grove. “We never gave up on Miami.”
In addition to his wife, Dluhy is survived by his daughter Jaime Walters, grandsons Tristan, Braden and Austin, and brother John Dluhy. He was predeceased by sons John Edward and Peter Christopher.
A memorial service and celebration of Dluhy's life will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Peacock-Newnam White Funeral and Cremation Service, 1411 N. Howe St., Southport, North Carolina. Internment will be Nov. 21 at Forest Hills Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Dr. Milan J. Dluhy MPA Student Scholarship Fund at The University of North Carolina-Wilmington, The Department of Public and International Affairs, 601 S. College Rd., 270 Leutze Hall, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28403.