Remembering A Good Man

Bernie Dahlem

We lost a great Delray guy earlier this month and I just can’t let it pass without telling you more about him.
Bernie Dahlem, former president of the Beach Property Owners Association, passed March 6. He was 88.

Mr. Dahlem loved Delray Beach and he gave back in many ways.
I think the biggest gift you can give is the gift of your time as a volunteer.
Time is the one asset you can’t make more off. Once you spend it, it’s gone. Forever.
Bernie gave a lot of his time to Delray and it paid off.

It paid off,  because he was an advocate for the barrier island and it’s neighborhoods but he also took a great interest in the city as a whole. His concern and gentle ways helped a great many civic causes and it’s these types of efforts that builds a strong community.

Mr. Dahlem was also a great advisor to elected officials because he spoke plainly, he spoke softly and he always had his facts straight.
He was also good about suggesting solutions. Bernie was a great touchstone for me during my term in office and I also know he helped many other elected officials on thorny issues relating to parking, bike lanes, traffic, landscaping, beach renourishment, reclaimed water, etc. etc. He always smiled and he always brought you solutions.
That’s a breath of fresh air during days when problems get dumped on you by the truckload.

Maybe that was the engineer in Bernie. Problems were mere equations to be wrestled with and solved.
Mr. Dahlem was an engineer by training and education.
He was also a highly successful shopping center developer in his native Kentucky.

Bernie was the chairman of the Dahlem Company, a commercial construction and real estate concern founded in 1931.
But before joining the family business, Bernie earned advanced degrees in civil engineering and served in the U.S. Navy.
He would remain active for years in the Naval Reserve. Here’s a great photo of my friend that I found on the Internet.

In Kentucky, Mr. Dahlem would become active in the International Council of Shopping Centers, serving as state director of the organization.
Dahlem Construction built several landmark projects in the Bluegrass state including the Actors Theatre of Louisville and several major shopping centers and banks.
He would later serve as president of the Actors Theatre, chair of the Louisville Fund for the Arts, board member of Republic Bank and Louisville Chamber of Commerce.
He was also heavily involved in the University of Louisville where he was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame as a result of a stellar collegiate swimming career.
And the list goes on. He was a remarkable man.

His obituary also noted that he was a humble and generous man of impeccable character and integrity.
That he was.
We were lucky to have him in Delray.
He will be missed.
Bernie Dahlem left a positive mark on Delray.
I will miss his laugh, his thoughtfulness and that twinkle he had in his eyes.
What a good man, he was.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter and thanks for reading. Be safe.


  1. Frances Bourque says

    Beautiful tribute! Well deserved!

  2. Bernie Torri says

    All of Berni’s friends and family were ceretainly the better for knowing Bernie . He certainly was a bid influence and a part of my life that I look back on with gratitude and love. I know I’ll always keep in my heart.
    Bernie Torri

  3. Thanks, Bernie was a Hero to me and to the welfare of Delray Beach. I truly appreciate Remembering A Good Man as a tribute to a selfless, astute, humble and fun gentleman.

  4. Bryan Arnett says

    Bernie and Debby Dahlem were friends of my parents since their college days at University of Louisville and I have been close with the family virtually my whole life. He was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known. Great tribute and spot on.

  5. Mark Wheeler says

    Another product of this great man is wonderful children and grandchildren! Because of Bernie and his wife they have left a legacy of people who can and will following in their footsteps. I’m sure Delray will continue to benefit from Bernie and his legacies. Louisville will too!! Thank you Bernie!!

  6. Karen Dahlem says

    Thank you so much for your article!

  7. Karen Dahlem says

    Thank you so much for your article! We miss him!

  8. Ron Gilinsky says

    A Loss but hopefully a Gain, as hoping many of our Young City of Delray Beach as well as our youth rise to this loss & Aspire to be the Sensational Leader & AMAZING Voulenteer that made Mr. Dable the Legand he was.

  9. Jane Glatz says

    Jeff, always continue to tell the community of Delray Beach the inside edition of the people who made a difference. This is important as our new leaders of Delray Beach take the helm and bring new and different directions of change. We need to know the people – who, what, when, where and why of their value and contributions made to Delray Beach. Thank you.

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