We were saddened to learn this weekend of the passing of Richard Hoberman (April 1, 1941 – March 4, 2022), another true MDPL pioneer that worked tirelessly for the cause of preservation in Miami Beach.
Richard Hoberman first came to Miami Beach in 1946 when he was five years old. The family home, which he restored after his parents death, was at 4507 Sheridan Avenue. From 1951 to 1958 his father owned the Bird Cage, a tropical themed coffee shop with 36 live parakeets. From 1961 to 1965 his father also owned Neil’s, a 24-hour deli on Alton Road, just north of Lincoln Road.
Richard attended Miami Beach High and received a BA in Business Administration from the University of Miami. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1963-1965 during the Vietnam War, he moved to New York City where he worked in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1965-1974. He returned to that office 1975-1980 after a one year assignment as City Administrator in Utica, New York.
In 1980, Richard Hoberman returned to his hometown Miami Beach and right away became active at Miami Design Preservation League. In 1981, when the Miami Beach Development Corporation was created by MDPL, he was hired by Barbara Capitman as the founding Executive Director to launch the new organization. At that time, Richard Hoberman also became a premier volunteer tour guide for MDPL, giving tours EVERY Saturday for years. His Saturday morning tours garnered great press notices and taught many the importance of preserving the Art Deco District. In 2002, MPDL held an event to recognize his 500th tour.
Jack Johnson, our current Board Chair, first met Richard in the 1970s when they both worked in the New York office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Richard was always fascinated by art and design,” Johnson said. “His apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was decorated with art work which was illuminated by museum quality lighting. So it wasn’t surprising that Richard became involved with the Miami Design Preservation League when he moved back to Miami Beach in 1980. When I moved here in 1999 and contacted Richard, he invited me to take one of his Saturday morning tours. I was hooked! Within a few years, I had joined the Board of MDPL and became a tour guide myself.”
From 1987-1991, Richard served as Chairman of the MDPL Board. In that role, he served as the chief spokesperson representing MDPL’s position before the City Commission, writing copious letters to the editor of the Miami Herald, leading the way for preservation efforts. He also co-chaired the Art Deco Weekend during those years and was Chair of the Moon Over Miami Ball. Most memorable was one at the historic Carl Fisher clubhouse near Bass Museum and another on Española Way.
His interest in preservation led to a four year stint as a Miami-Dade County Preservation Planner after which he moved to the position of Contract Officer, a job he held from 1988 until his retirement in 2010. In retirement he volunteered time to assist cataloging books in the library at the Wolfsonian/FIU.
In recent years, afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease, Richard was a resident of Miami Jewish Health. He is survived by his older brother, Edward Hoberman of New York City.
Bio information was provided by Dennis Wilhelm and Michael Kinerk who were close friends of Richard Hoberman since 1980. From 1994-2018, they met up with Richard Hoberman and Ernie Martin for dinner every three months, which they fondly called “the quarterly dinners”.