HIS CLOSE FRIENDS

 

Billy and Suzy Vessels  Billy was the 1952 Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma. Billy joined the Mackles shortly after leaving school. 

Bill Vessels - Dad - Bill O'Dowd

He was friend to VIPs the world over and served as a special aid to Dad on matters of Corporate Relations. 

He was always dedicated to the Mackles but his dedication rose to the level of heroism during the Barbara Mackle kidnapping.

 

Bill and Sherry ODowd Bill joined up in the early fifties and worked with Dad and his brothers until the late seventies. He was the first to join them in their new venture after they parted with General Development. He was also a long time golfing partner at Riviera Country Club.

 

Jim and Marie Vensel

Dad - Robert - Jim Vensel

Head of Engineering and Architecture at both General Development and Deltona. Personally designed all of the Mackle Brother's communities from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s. Jim was a perfectionist excelling in hobbies of archery and sailboat racing. 

 

Neil and Ann Bahr

Dad - Robert - Neil Bahr

Neil was the architect of the franchise and branch office network and all of the other innovations that made the installment land sales business and the international sale of Florida real estate so successful. Neil started in the Cleveland  office and left there in the late 1950s to head up the General Development Sales and Marketing department. He was with Dad longer than anyone. Dad thought so much of him that he often introduced Neil as "the fourth Mackle Brother" Neil was still actively involved with Deltona when we left the company in 1986 and remained a member of the Board of Directors for a number of years after our departure. 

 

Harvey and Liz Elwood In the early 50's Harvey and another electrician were working for an electrical contractor who abandoned his contract with the Mackles and left Harvey and his fellow employees stranded. Dad put Harvey in business with a personal loan. 

Harvey repaid them by the outstanding product and life-long friendship that he gave back for the rest of his life.

Harvey had a great sense of humor. He was especially fond of golf and fishing and enjoyed competing at both.

 

Herb and Emily Savage 

Herb Savage, Jim Vensel and Wives

Herb was Chief Architect for Deltona and designer of the Marco Beach Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armer White Real Estate Man extraordinaire, Armer was involved in many of the land purchases made by the Mackles over the years.

 

Jack Peeples Jack was one of those rare individuals with outstanding talent and an extremely high energy level to go along with it. Jack was a successful Tallahassee attorney skilled in the law as well as State politics. His avocations included scuba diving and balloon racing. 

 

Morris Salomon It was said that Morris Salomon wrote or influenced most of the real estate law in the State of Florida over the first two thirds of the twentieth century. His involvement with the Mackles began in the late 30s or early 40s soon after Frank Mackle Senior brought his family to the state. Morris was not only an outstanding attorney but was one of the fiercest negotiators that I ever knew. His counsel and representation of the Mackle Brothers was a significant reason for their success over the years.

 

Jim and Eileen McCaughan Jim was working for IDS handling mortgages for them in the early 1950s. IDS moved in other directions and their Florida office was closed or being phased out. The Mackles had been thinking about getting in to the mortgage business on their own. Instead Dad agreed to let Jim continue to handle them under McCaughan Mortgage.

Jim and Eileen became close friends and often vacationed - at the Key Biscayne Hotel and elsewhere - in the 1950s and 1960s especially.

 

Bill Allen Bill was the one long time bank relationship who remained a friend through good times and bad.

He was already a senior officer at First National Bank of Miami in the fall of 1969 when Barbara Mackle was kidnapped. Bill Allen or the book, 98 Hour Til Dawn, both tell the story better than I can. But it was Bill who was called on late in the day and was asked to lend the $500,000 ransom money to the Mackle Brothers on the spur of the moment and on their personal signature. For Bill that was the easy part. The hard part was organizing his staff to amass that amount of money in $20 bills and locate a suitcase of the size demanded and deliver it by dawn the next morning. As I understand it, Bill and his associates stayed all night to accomplish that task.

As the years went on and First National became Southeast Bank, Bill, advancing in his own career, still stayed close to the Mackle family and when the difficult times came after the permit denials, Bill personally intervened with our New York and Boston bankers to buy us time to work our problems out.

If only all bankers had the values and integrity that Bill possessed ...

Gene Sarazen Legendary golf professional

 

Ken Venturi Nearly as legendary golf professional

 

Peter Cats Peter was financial advisor to Norman Winston when original Deltona venture was put together with C,K.P. Peter was a member of the Deltona Board for many years. Peter and Dad hit it off immediately and were close friends for the rest of their lives. When Dad was in New York, Peter was always a breakfast guest at the Plaza Hotel - especially when important bank or new venture business was being served!

 

Don and Kay McNeil Don was an early promoter of Deltona Lakes  and brought his nationally syndicated radio show - the Breakfast Club - to Deltona on its first anniversary. A close friendship with Dad and Mom developed. They loved Marco Island and vacationed there for many years. Their son Tom, an attorney, was later a member of the Board and another son - Father Don - founder of Notre Dames Center for Social Concerns - were also close to the family.

 

Ara Parseghian

 

Legendary Notre Dame football coach and owner of a second home on Marco Island. Frequently part of  Frank Mackle Jr. -  Gene Sarazen golf outings

 

Dr. Ed Lauth
and Dobbie Lauth

 

Doctor Lauth was one of the many friends who put their lives on hold to help during the Barbara Mackle kidnapping, attending to Robert and Jane though the ordeal. Ed and Dobbie were close family friends for many years.
Ed and Peggy McHale

 

Close friends for many years. Ed was the owner of McHale Funeral Homes and - as is often the case with funeral directors - had a marvelous sense of humor.
Dr. Handwerker

 

One of the early pioneers of Key Biscayne and a close friend and family physician.
Fred Hooper

Dad's first contacts with Fred Hooper came at the racetrack and at LaGorce Country Club in the late 40s.

Fred was a successful heavy equipment contractor during and after the war and a director of Florida Canada and General Development.

By the time that they were in business together the friendship had became even closer.

Fred had already lived a fascinating life.

One of my most cherished memories - growing up - were golf outings in the summer at Spring Lake Country Club with Dad and Fred Hooper and Eddie Blind the "starter" at Monmouth Park Race Track. Eddie Blind was another character and Eddie and Fred had some serious money riding on their summer long golf competition. Dad and I enjoyed watching their match and listening to their stories!

Fred Hooper was an incredible guy in his own right. He had worked his way up from ranch hand to school teacher to a heavy equipment man to horse owner. After a round of golf we would sit in the men's locker room and he would tell the stories of his life including:

The time he was bitten by a snake and his horse ran away and he took days walking back to civilization with his hand swollen by the snake bite 

 

The story about the first horse he ever purchased who went on to win the 1945 Kentucky Derby

 

The fabled match race between his horse Olympia and the best Quarter Horse in the country who was owned b some Texans. He stood in the saddling ring at old Tropical Park waving cash in the air taking all wagers.......Olympia won ..... and he offered to give the Texans a rematch against an unknown filly in his barn wh ...Fred assured us ... had beaten Olympia at a quarter of a mile in morning trials..... The Texans had had enough and declined the second race.

 

His story - written up in Believe-It-Or-Not - of calling a hole-in-one.

 

and many more.

Mr. Hooper passed away in 2000 at the age of 102. He was active in horse racing to the end.

 

OTHER FRIENDS & ACQUAINTANCES

Father Hesburgh President of the University of Notre Dame

 

Richard Nixon President of the United States

 

Bill Rogers Secretary of State

 

Tony Lema Golf professional tragically killed in a plane crash.

 

Bebe Reboso South Florida Banker and close friend of Richard Nixon

 

Monsignor William Barry

 

Pastor of St. Patricks Catholic Church on Miami Beach, Monsignor Barry was a pioneer in the spread of the Catholic Faith in Florida from the early part of the twentieth century. I am not sure of the exact history but Barry University owes its existence to the his family as well.

 

Archbishop Coleman Carroll First Bishop of the Diocese of South Florida which was established in the 1960s. Previously the entire state had been part of the Diocese of Jacksonville. Bishop - later Archbishop - Caroll was a resident of Sunset Island and quickly recruited Dad and Mom into the work of the Church - Dad through the Serra Club and Mom with St. Vincent DePaul among other things.

 

Senator George Smathers Long time U.S. Senator from the State of Florida and close friend of Jack Kennedy. Senator Smathers was a regular guest at the Key Biscayne Hotel, a close friend of Billy and Suzy Vessels and an occasional golfing partner at Indian Creek Country Club