Marshall Berkson




v  Marshall H. Berkson was born on February 9, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois.  Marshall started working at 11 years old. His first real job was operating all kinds of machinery used in the manufacturing of Venetian blinds at the age of 16.  Marshall was paid 40 cents per hour, working 8-10 hours a day and forty to sixty hour weeks.


v  Marshall attended Hyde Park High School, a large, inner-city school on the South Side of Chicago, where Marshall made the Honor Society and captained the basketball team in his junior and senior years.


v  After considering various colleges Marshall accepted a four year full scholarship to DePaul University because of its outstanding basketball program. In 1943, while playing on the first team for DePaul, Marshall was inducted into the Army. While at DePaul, Marshall Berkson was a teammate of George Mikan and Ray Meyer was his coach.  Both George Mikan and Ray Meyer are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Marshall remained friendly with both of them long after his basketball days; until they both passed away in 2007.


v  If it were not for basketball, Marshall might not have gone to college as his family had been hard hit by the Depression.


v  In June 1943, Marshall was inducted into the United States Army.  After passing certain mental and physical tests, Marshall was placed in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and ultimately enrolled by the Army at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where Marshall also played basketball.


v  As the war went on the Army, needing new troops, closed the ASTP program and gave the soldiers a diploma and shipped them into the infantry.  This was vividly documented in a book written by Raymond S. Ross, Ph.D. entitled “When Your Number’s Up:  Meritocracy Goes To War”.


v  Dr. Ross’ book described the experiences of the 8th Armored Division of the Third Army headed by General George S. Patton, and the 58th Armored Infantry Battalion Companies B & C.  Marshall was in Company C, a line company.


v  Attached to the 8th Armored Division, 58th Armored Infantry Battalion, Company C, Marshall was among the first American troops to enter Holland.  Marshall fought across Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. 


v  During this time, Marshall was in numerous battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge.  Marshall volunteered to go behind enemy lines and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor.  Marshall also was among the first troops to enter and liberate a Nazi concentration camp, Halberstadt Zweiberger, a satellite of Buchenwald.

v  Marshall Berkson was recognized for this with a ceremony by the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center and presented with an American flag that flew over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in his honor.


v  When the war ended, Marshall was transferred to the 4th Armored Division, was sent to Landshut, Germany, and became part of the Army of Occupation.  Later, Marshall volunteered for the Army Reserves where Marshall was accepted and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in military intelligence.    


v  After the war, Marshall obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from DePaul University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with minors in Economics and Marketing from the University of Chicago.      


v  In January, 1950, shortly after receiving his degree from the University of Chicago, Marshall moved to Miami, Florida.  Once there, Marshall obtained a temporary teaching certificate from the state of Florida and was therefore able to teach Business Management and Business Math at Lindsey Hopkins, the forerunner of the present community college system. 


v  Early in 1950, Marshall made the decision to go into the air conditioning business.  And so with his friend and partner, both without any experience and a combined investment of $2,000, started an air conditioning company in Miami, Florida which became known as Miami Air Conditioning Company.


v  The President of the American Society of Heating & Ventilation Engineers wrote in an article that he would give the company at most a year of existence. Instead, in 1960 Marshall took the company public in a full registration. Nine years later, at the age of 44, Marshall sold the majority of his stock in the company and retired.  Marshall has often been referred to in and out of the business as one of the pioneers of the air conditioning industry as Marshall helped bring air conditioning to South Florida.


v  A few years later, not content with retirement, Marshall became much more involved with his real estate investments and became a real estate broker, a realtor, and a real estate appraiser. Marshall still found time to participate in community activities, and even to coach the Optimist Club basketball team. One of his players was Andy Garcia, the actor.


v  Around this time Marshall became active with the Board of Governors of the South Shore Hospital and Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida. After approximately one year the board asked Marshall to become Chairman and President of the Hospital, and Marshall accepted. The Hospital during his tenure was affiliated with the University of Miami.


v  Marshall has been active and financially supportive of various charities, universities, civic clubs and community efforts.


v  Marshall has been interviewed by the 8th armored division and his interview has been recorded in the Library of Congress. Marshall has also been interviewed by the John Mellon Foundation and the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center. In addition Marshall has been interviewed by radio, newspapers and other media. Marshall has also written articles for the media and spoken before schools, hospitals, civic clubs and other like organizations.


v  His awards and honors include being given a Humanitarian Award by the South Shore Hospital Auxiliary in 1994; being proclaimed an Honorary Citizen of the City of Miami Beach by Mayor Sy Gelber; received a key to the City of Miami Beach in 1986, and Mayor Gelber further honored Marshall by naming March 17th, 1994 as Marshall Berkson Day. Marshall also received a certificate of recognition from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.


v  Other highlights of Marshall’s career include:

¨      Appointed a Lieutenant Colonel by the then Governor of Florida, Fuller Warren (1953)

¨      On the National Advisory Board of Peoples National Bank.

¨      Vice President of Fairfax Broadcasting, owner of AM station WQXT, and FM station WWOS in Palm Beach, FL.

¨      Received an award from Westinghouse Corp. as the outstanding distributor in the United States

¨      Chairman of the board of Thermal Industries of Florida, a public company engaged in the manufacture, distribution, and installation of air conditioning and heating equipment and instruments and accessories associated with the air conditioning industry.

¨      General Partner of MH Berkson Associates, Ltd. – Real Estate Investments

¨      General Partner of Rel Alton, Ltd. – Real Estate Investments

¨      President of MTI School


v  To this day Marshall remains active with his investments and is a member of the following organizations:


¨      Veterans of Foreign Wars

¨      DePaul and University of Chicago Alumni Associations

¨      Optimist Club of Miami

¨      Basketball Fraternity (A group of older former college and pro basketball players)

¨      Vice President and Director of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center