Miller School Philanthropist and Friend George Bergmann Passes Away

George Bergmann, a successful South Florida businessman and philanthropist who left an indelible mark on the Miller School of Medicine, died at University of Miami Hospital on October 24 after a prolonged illness. He was 79.

The president of Bergmann Properties, Bergmann was widely known across South Florida for his real estate acumen, his support of Jewish causes and education, and his commitment to advancing the Department of Orthopaedics’ education, research, and basic care.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean, and Chief Executive Officer of UHealth, called Bergmann “a wonderful friend whose legacy endures.’’

“Along with his wife Marla, he was a tremendous supporter of the Miller School, UHealth and our mission,” the Dean said. “He cared deeply about helping others, and we and our patients were lucky to have him at our side.”

UM President Donna E. Shalala said, “George was generous, smart and loyal. He loved the University, particularly the Miller School, and we all loved him.”

“George, as well as his wife Marla, have been special friends to me personally and huge, devoted friends and supporters of our department,” said Frank Eismont, M.D., the George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics and the Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chairman of Orthopaedics. “We will all miss him and his good advice and his dry sense of humor. He has had a profound impact on me as well as our department and we are grateful for all he has done for us.”

Bergmann’s passion for advancing the Department of Orthopaedics can be traced to two of his early encounters with the Miller School. Sidelined by severe back pain in 1979, the energetic businessman was confined to bed and told he would never walk again. Then a good friend referred him to Charles Weiss, M.D., a voluntary faculty member who got him back on his feet again.

More than two decades later, the Bergmanns were homeward bound from California when George Bergmann hoisted their luggage to the overhead bin and agonizing pain shot through his neck. It did not subside until Eismont, in concert with another physician, managed to rehabilitate Bergmann’s narrowing spinal canal without surgery.

Bergmann was so grateful that he decided to have a relationship with the Miller School other than that of patient. He and his wife became ardent supporters of the Miami Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education, the fundraising arm of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, and funded the George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics. A UM alumna, Marla Bergmann has chaired the University of Miami Hospital Leadership Council, the hospital’s original fundraising arm. The couple also made generous contributions to UM’s Momentum campaigns.

As George Bergmann said, “Marla and I feel very strongly that when you live in a community you must give back to the community. It will only bring positive things back to you.”

A native of New York City, Bergmann had as great an impact on South Florida’s real estate market as he did on his philanthropic interests. He was co-founder of the real estate marketing firm Communications Group, president of Century Village, president and CEO of Cenvill Family Centers, and instrumental in establishing developments in Coconut Creek and Pembroke Pines. He also established Florida Real Estate Expositions, Inc., a marketing firm that promoted Florida’s residential developers.

In addition to his wife Marla, Bergmann is survived by their children Lauren and Lance.

Funeral services were held October 25 at Beth David Memorial Gardens/Levitt-Weinstein Memorial Chapels.

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