For almost anyone, partying with Frank Sinatra, at Ol’ Blue Eyes invitation, would be a hard story to top.
For Malvin “Mal” Englander, a former Miami Beach vice mayor, councilman and 71-year member of the Florida Bar Association, to share a birthday with Sinatra was just another story to tell.
But what a story.
Englander, who died at 94 on Jan. 6, and the late entertainer were both born on Dec. 12. In 1980, for his 60th birthday, Englander was at a craps table in Monte Carlo. Sinatra, celebrating his 65th, was seated next to him.
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“Dad was a high roller,” daughter Nicki Grossman said.
When Sinatra heard the two had the same birthday, he invited Englander to his private suite upstairs for a shindig he was hosting. Englander was in good company. Princess Grace of Monaco and her husband Prince Rainier were among the guests.
“He would tell these stories, like you are meeting your neighbor at Publix. This was one of the truly amazing stories in his life,” said Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
But there were others. The Bronx-born Malvin “Mal” Englander was appointed an Honorary Consul to Haiti by President Dwight Eisenhower. As Vice Mayor of Miami Beach in the early 1960s, he was an official greeter for President John F. Kennedy in December 1962. He sat with the world leader when the president held a rally at the Orange Bowl for surviving members of the 2506 Brigade, which had launched an invasion of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Englander, a Dade County Justice of the Peace, “enjoyed public office and the campaigning and politics and doing things that were important in the community and he put a little of that in each of his six kids,” said Grossman, a former Broward County commissioner.
“As late as six months ago I called my dad for advice on things. He was a singular influence on my life and gave me the greatest taste in the world for politics and, it’s funny, he never forced anything on us but he opened the door and said ‘Walk through it,’” Grossman said.
“He was an amazing wit and he loved people. He taught us that the most important thing is to be a part of the community and help the community,” said daughter Marla Carroll, a forensics analyst.
“There are six kids and each one knows, in our heart, that we are the favorite. He left an indelible impression on everyone he met,” said son, attorney Joseph Englander.
Englander, who was born in 1920, the year women got the right to vote, moved to Miami Beach in 1928. He went to Ida M. Fisher Junior High, and was graduated in 1938 from Miami Beach High School.
He earned his law degree at the University of Miami and served in the U.S Army as a second lieutenant during World War II.
When Englander joined the Florida Bar in 1942, a gallon of gas was 15 cents. When he retired 71 years later, gas was more than 20 times as expensive and he was one of the longest-serving members of the Bar.
“I began my law career during World War II and I think lawyers believed then and now that it is the law that sets us apart from other countries,” he said upon his retirement in 2013.
Along the way, Englander was a Worshipful Master of Hibiscus Masonic Lodge #275, a lifetime member of the Miami Beach Elks, Kiwanis and a past president of the Miami Beach Jaycees.
That wit daughter Marla mentioned? Well, there was that one case in which two squabbling neighbors clashed over who threw dog excrement over the other’s fence. That one became known as “The Case of Who Flung the Dung” Grossman told The Florida Bar News.
Married for 71 years to Sophia Tendrich Englander, family was paramount.
“My father had five daughters. He never got to go the bathroom,” Grossman said.
True story. He once sent his wife house hunting on Miami Beach to accommodate the large family. When she found just such a home on Pine Tree Drive, she called her husband.
“How many bathrooms?” he asked.
“Seven,” she answered.
“Buy the house!” he cried.
“Everything he did in his life he did for his family,” Grossman said. “His family and love of the law. Those were the two principles of his life. He reveled in learning something from every case.”
In addition to his wife Sophia and children Nicki, Marla and Joe, Englander is survived by daughters Donna Fleishman, Patti Henning and Tobie Bagliebter, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Temple Sinai, 1400 N. 46th Ave., Hollywood, with burial to follow at Beth David Memorial Gardens, 3201 NW 72nd Ave., Hollywood. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Rd, S.W., Lilburn, GA., 30047, honoring Mal Englander.
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