Marshall Henry Berkson, World War II Veteran and business entrepreneur, born February 9, 1925 in Chicago, IL passed away on June 22, 2020 in Miami, FL. Marshall was raised on the South Side of Chicago by loving parents, Oscar and Sylvia Berkson. An honor student and talented athlete, he attended Hyde Park High School, then went on to earn a basketball scholarship to DePaul University, one of the best basketball programs in the country, playing as a starter with teammate George Mikan under legendary coach Ray Meyer, both in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He eventually earned an MBA at the University of Chicago. Berkson served in the 8th Armored Division, 58th Armored Infantry Battalion, Company C fighting across Europe under General George S. Patton. He fought during the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for volunteering to go behind enemy lines. He was among the first troops to enter and liberate a Nazi concentration camp, a satellite of Buchenwald. He has been interviewed by the 8th Armored Division and his interview has been recorded in the Library of Congress. After the war, he served in Germany in the Army of Occupation and was a lieutenant in Army Intelligence. For his heroism, Berkson was named a Knight of the French Legion of Honor by President Sarkozy of France "as a sign of France's infinite gratitude and appreciation for your personal and precious contribution to the United States decisive role in the liberation of our country during World War II." He has been given the rank of Chevalier created by Napoleon in 1912 to "acknowledge services rendered to France by persons of great merit." Berkson additionally was recognized with a ceremony by the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center and presented with an American flag that flew over the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. In 1950, Berkson moved to Miami, FL where he and a friend founded the Miami Airconditioning and Heating company. He also co-founded Thermal Industries of Florida and invented a refrigerant leak detector still in use today. In 1960, at the age of 44, he sold his company to Westinghouse Corporation and retired. In his retirement, he became actively involved in the real estate business as an investor, real estate broker, and appraiser. He also became Chairman and President of the South Shore Hospital and Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL, affiliated with the University of Miami. Berkson still found time to coach an Optimist Club basketball team, with one player being famous actor Andy Garcia. Marshall also played the drums and was a member of the Local Musician's Union 655 performing with his Dixieland combo for various charities, universities, and civic clubs. He was awarded by Mayor Sy Gelber as an Honorary Citizen of the City of Miami Beach, received a key to the City of Miami Beach in 1986, and March 17, 1994 was named Marshall Berkson Day. For his 90th birthday, he was awarded with another key to the City of Miami Beach, a Centennial coin, and the proclamation of February 9, 2015 as Marshall Berkson Day by Mayor Philip Levine. Marshall Berkson was married for 41 years to Lyla Feldman Berkson before her death in 1993. He is survived by his three beloved children Ellen Ecker (Barry Neumann), Robert Berkson (Ann), and Lori Stoll (Jon, deceased); seven grandchildren, Lisa Ecker, Amy Ecker Dodd (Andrew), Matthew Berkson, Michael Berkson (Dina), L.J., Jack and Liana Stoll; great-grandchildren Lyla Dodd, Miles Berkson; significant other Lynda Fromkin; and extended family Jesse Stoll, and Lauren (Chip) and daughter, Sydney Stahl. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Parkinson's Foundation or the Jewish Federation.
Published in Palm Beach Daily News on Jun. 28, 2020.