He Was A Great One…

Harold Ostrow was 90.

A really good man died last week and I’m afraid that his passing might get lost in the fire hose of information that is our world these days.  

Harold Ostrow passed away March 10 and it’s important to stop and reflect on his legacy because he was really important to our community. One of those unsung heroes who provided quiet but steady leadership for decades. 

Harold lived west of Delray Beach and is best known for founding the Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County. 
The Voters Coalition was a non-partisan civic association that quickly grew into a powerful and respected force in Palm Beach County and beyond.

Elected officials from Governors, Senators, County Commissioners, School Board members, judges and mayors beat a path to the Voters Coalition door seeking endorsements and an audience with its leadership. 

They did so because the Voters Coalition stood for what was best for the community and they commanded respect as a result. They also influenced a whole lot of votes. 

I got to know Mr. Ostrow in my newspaper days. I would attend Voters Coalition meetings and dinners because that’s where you’d find all the newsmakers. 

When I ran for office, Harold was generous with advice and encouragement even though he didn’t live in the city limits. He believed in good government and cared about Delray Beach. His synagogue, Temple Sinai, was in our city and he saw himself as a stakeholder. 

He was a kind, gentle and very intelligent man and I enjoyed every one of our many conversations over the years. 

I also admired his dedication to community service. He chaired the Palm Beach County Health Care District, where his leadership led to the creation of the Trauma Hawk; helicopters that ferried those in need to two trauma centers including one in Delray. 

Later, when I served on the Board of Directors for Delray Medical Center, Harold was a great touch stone and gave me solid advice on issues relating to health care in our service area. 

To give you further insight into his dedication, Mr. Ostrow was affectionately known as “Mr. Civic.”
He served on the Palm Beach County Finance Authority, Solid Waste Authority’s Citizen Advisory Committee, Judicial Nominating Committee and countless other boards and task forces. 

As chair of the Health Care District, Mr. Ostrow he worked with the School District to create behavioral health programs that served 170,000 students. 

All of this after a lengthy career in the textile industry and as the owner of a popular ice cream shop in New York City. 

He “retired” in West Delray and created a whole other rich life. All while still being there for his family and his wife of 70 years (that’s not a typo) Lenore. 
It’s really remarkable when you think about it. 

There are other examples of course, role models all. But Harold was extra special. 
And we will miss him. 

I’m not sure they make them like that anymore. But I sure hope they do. 
Men and women dedicated to the community, in it for the long haul and for all the right reasons. 

They give back, they pay it forward. They were members of the “greatest generation” and they have a lot to teach us. 
Farewell, my friend. Thanks for teaching so many so well for so long.