Statue Honoring Harcourt M. Sylvester Jr. Unveiled at Gala Reception

The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center wrote another chapter in its history Thursday evening, unveiling a bronze statue of its benefactor, the late Harcourt M. Sylvester Jr. A crowd of more than seventy people — including Sylvester’s daughters, Jayne Malfitano and Laura Cameron — gathered in the courtyard just outside the cancer center for the event.

Joan Scheiner, chairman of the Sylvester Board of Governors, began the presentation with a surprise announcement. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Willy Gort declared April 8, 2010 Harcourt M. Sylvester Jr. Statue Dedication Day.

It seemed a fitting tribute for a man who was described by all who spoke as “humble,” “dignified,” “visionary” and “generous.” Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School, talked about how Sylvester “had the ability to see the world as it should be.”

In 1986, Sylvester directed the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation to make a $27.5 million gift to the medical school to build a cancer center. He wanted to “make a statement,” the story goes, by showing how South Florida could be transformed by the creation of a university-based cancer center. At the time, it was the largest donation ever made to the University of Miami.

Since then, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has become a focal point for cutting-edge research and clinical excellence, just as Sylvester envisioned. His daughter Jayne S. Malfitano spoke to the crowd, which included many family members from out of town, including five of Sylvester’s grandchildren. She said the real blessing of the cancer center wasn’t the building or the name, but the people inside — “those who care for patients and families, researchers, volunteers… all singularly focused on easing the human burden from cancer.”

Malfitano spoke about the hope her father always had, and was visibly moved when quoting one of his favorite phrases, “May hope run eternal in us all.” Any tears that fell were replaced moments later by jubilant smiles as the Sylvester family unveiled the Seward Johnson bronze statue in the cancer center courtyard. The figure portrays a smiling and seated Harcourt M. Sylvester, Jr., holding a letter from a grateful patient.

W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., chief medical officer of Sylvester summed up the universal sentiment, saying simply, “Mr. Sylvester, we are glad to have you back on campus.”

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