Member Profile

1979 Horatio Alger Award Recipient

Shepard Broad*

Chairman of the Board

American Savings & Loan Association

“The more selfish we are, the more difficult it is to reach our destinies.”

Born in 1906 in Pinsk, Russia, into an Orthodox Jewish family, Shmuel Bobrowicz lost his mother at age three and became an orphan at 10, when his father died in World War I. He and his younger brother survived the German occupation of his city and the hostilities between the Poles and the Bolsheviks that followed. His American uncle offered to sponsor his entry into the United States, arranging for steerage passage from Antwerp via Warsaw. To get there, the 13-year-old boy jumped a freight train in the dark, only to be thrown off at daybreak by a railroad official.

He finally made his way to Antwerp and, after a three-week voyage, arrived in New York, where he was greeted by a relieved uncle and a hostile aunt. 'She was very unhappy to have me there,' he said. It took two years for his aunt's attitude toward him to change. After his aunt and uncle divorced, he took care of her until the day she died. 'It's important to repay people for what they did for you,' he said.

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After giving the young nephew a new name, Shepard Broad, the uncle enrolled him in school. Because he spoke only Yiddish, Broad was assigned to a third-grade class. 'I hated it. I couldn't wait to get out of there,' he recalled. 'The kids made fun of me.' Within a year, however, he was able to attend high school; seven years after he spoke his first word of English, he had earned a law degree from New York Law School. 'When you've got no money and nothing except a rather decent head on your shoulders, the thing to do is to use your head,' he said.

Broad practiced law in New York for several years and then became enchanted with Florida while vacationing there. In 1947, he acquired 250 acres of swampland between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and founded the town of Bay Harbor Islands. He served as mayor of Bay Harbor Islands for 26 years, stepping down at age 70.

Long active in Jewish affairs, Broad was one of 17 American Jews who met secretly with David Ben-Gurion in 1945 to discuss the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Horrified by stories of the Holocaust and determined for Jews to have a homeland of their own, Broad and the others pledged 'their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor' for what would eventually become the state of Israel, he said.

In 1988, Broad retired as chairman of the executive committee of Miami-based American Savings & Loan Association, which he had founded in 1950 with $7,500'and which later grew to become one of Florida's largest thrift institutions. Broad continued to work in his office each day well into his nineties. A long-time trustee of the Nova Southeastern University's Law School in Fort Lauderdale, the school changed its name in 1989 to the Shepard Broad College of Law.

Asked about his success, Broad once said, 'You have to be giving to achieve your desires.'

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