Local Obituaries

Philanthropist Morris Broad, son of Bay Harbor Islands founder, dies at 81

Morris Broad, son of the founder of Bay Harbor Islands, held one of the town’s commemorative licenses plates he helped finance in 2010. He is seen at his Coral Gables home in 2010.
Morris Broad, son of the founder of Bay Harbor Islands, held one of the town’s commemorative licenses plates he helped finance in 2010. He is seen at his Coral Gables home in 2010. For the Miami Herald

When you are the son of a man who founded a city and built a causeway that carries your surname and who founded one of the state’s largest savings and loans, a certain responsibility comes your way.

Morris Broad lived up to the Broad name and made his father, the late Shepard Broad, and his family proud.

Broad, a philanthropist, head of the Broad Foundation, which donates money toward education, scientific and medical research, and former president of American Savings and Loan, died Sept. 1 at 81.

“He embodied generosity. He had an incredible sense of humor,” said his niece Deborah Bussel.

“He had this universal spirituality,” said Anita Broad, his wife of nearly 27 years. “He had a way of making everyone shine and uplifting all of us. He taught us the value of sharing.”

Broad, born April 11, 1935, in Burlington, Vermont, to Shepard and Ruth Broad, grew up in Miami Beach. He was captain of the patrols at North Beach Elementary when he graduated in 1946. At Miami Beach Senior High, Class of 1953, he was president of the student body and captain of the school’s tennis team, his sister Ann Bussel remembers.

“My brother had a wonderful, outgoing personality,” Bussel said. “When he got into the work world at American Savings it wasn’t a boss-worker relationship. He had a team and the people were his teammates and he was the captain. That’s how he lived his career in banking and in life in general.”

Broad joined his father, Shepard, founder of Bay Harbor Islands, at American Savings and Loan, almost from the time his father founded the S&L in 1950. Still a teen, Broad was the third employee of the bank, his niece Deborah said. In his senior year at the University of Miami in 1956, he helped in the construction of the school’s Alpha Omega Chapter house.

By 1965, the younger Broad was president of American S&L.

The S&L, with both Broads at the helm, became a South Florida institution with 57 branches across Florida. Former Miami Herald business writer James Russell called the family-run S&L “one of those classic American success stories.” American was a $3 billion S&L at the time, one of the state’s biggest and the first in Florida to change from mutual to stockholder ownership, Russell wrote in 1985.

At one point, American had two branches bookending Lincoln Road Mall on Alton Road and Washington Avenue. A large mosaic mural of tiles at the Alton Road location depicted members of the Broad and Bussel families as early American archetypes. Broad’s late mother, Ruth, namesake of the Ruth K. Broad Elementary School in Bay Harbor, is seen as Betsy Ross. Broad was depicted as Daniel Boone; the Bussel children as pilgrims.

“I was the baby in the crib,” nephew John Bussel said. He was born in 1969, a year before that branch opened in 1970. “He was an amazing uncle. The interest he took in his sister’s four children is amazing.”

One of Broad’s last tasks, niece Deborah Bussel said, was to make arrangements to eventually move the mosaic to Ruth K. Broad Elementary.

The Broads sold American S&L in 1988, and Morris Broad, who retired to Coral Gables, devoted time to philanthropic activities, including the Shepard Broad Foundation, the Morris and Anita Broad Philanthropic Fund, the Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Research Foundation and projects in Bay Harbor Islands.

“Morris is a great example of a family with a great heritage of giving,” said David Lawrence Jr., the retired Herald publisher. “We live in a community blessed now for generations by the Broad family.”

Broad never forgot that day in 1945 when he was 10 and his Russian-born father took him for a Sunday boat ride to the spot where, in two years, he would establish Bay Harbor Islands and, in 1951, complete the Broad Causeway at 125th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

“It’s important to continue the legacy that my father made possible,” Broad said in a 2007 Herald article. Every year Broad donated funds toward the town’s annual celebrations. He also donated to the Ruth K. Broad Teacher of the Year annually and, as the oldest living person to be connected to Bay Harbor Islands in 2010, financed commemorative license plates.

“The town has been exceedingly good to me and my family,” he told the Herald, “and it’s important to give back.”

Broad is also survived by his son, Anthony Broad, granddaughters Emma and Sara, nephew Daniel Bussel and niece Karen Berman. Services will be at noon Sept. 6 at Temple Beth Sholom, 4144 Chase Ave., Miami Beach. Donations can be made to The Shepard Broad Foundation, 801 Brickell Ave., Suite 2350, Miami, FL 33131, or a charity of your choice.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen