Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 Pioneer: Larry Wark

Each year for the past 39 years the Broward County Historical Commission has honored pioneers from the various cities and historical organizations throughout the County. The 2011 Broward County Historical Commission Pioneer Day was held on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at the History Center in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

The City of Tamarac's 2011 Pioneer honoree is Larry Wark.

2011 City of Tamarac Pioneer Larry Wark pictured with Mayor Pamela Bushnell and his wife Letty and her sister Lita.

Pioneer’s Name:
Lawrence (“Larry”) Bernard Wark

Place of Birth:
Albany, New York

Date of Arrival in Broward County:

Method of Arrival:
Drove down in a 1960 Oldsmobile. Was an Insurance Investigator in Albany, NY; transferred to Florida in 1964.

Name of Spouse:
Leticia “Letty” Wark

Marines: 1952 – 1955 (Served in Korean War)

Reminiscences on life in Broward County/Tamarac:
Larry, a former police officer from Rensselaer, New York had an opportunity to transfer to South Florida in 1964 as an Insurance Investigator.

In 1968 the City of Tamarac hired Elis Devoe, the ex-chief of police from Lighthouse Point, as it’s first Police Chief. Chief Elis’ was responsible for forming the City’s first Police Department of which Larry Wark was hired as the first police patrolman; with badge #1!

After approximately six months on the job, the State determined that Larry had to attend the Florida Police Academy, but unfortunately the City of Tamarac did not have the funds to send him so he had to leave the job. After his tenure with the City of Tamarac, Larry went to work as a uniformed police officer, and then detective, for the City of Lauderdale Lakes. From there he went on to be elected to the City Council of Lauderdale Lakes – during his service as Councilman, Larry served as the Chairman of the Public Safety. At the same time he started his own business as a private investigation and security guard agency.

Larry is now semi-retired, however he continues to serve as a security instructor for Corporate Security Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Larry has resided in the Mainlands Community of Tamarac for the past eight years with his wife of seventeen years, Leticia.

With regards to his time with the City of Tamarac’s Police Department, Larry recalls a couple of specific stories:

“Back in my day with the Tamarac Police Department, most of the City was under construction. The majority of our police functions consisting patrolling the City keeping watch on the shadows of the many partially built homes. We occasionally wrote up traffic violations and on occasion deterred theft of construction materials. I can remember killing 5 ½ foot rattle snake on the dirt road cutting (Commercial Boulevard) in the swampy area of now University Drive.”


“My first arrest as a Tamarac Officer was of a rape suspect who threw his victim from a speeding car. Back then we were on the same radio frequency as the Sheriff’s Office. One late night a BOLO (‘Be On The Lookout’) came over advising a suspect, driving a white Chevy, could be headed West. On patrol, I spotted the vehicle, gave chase and caught the suspect as he pulled into a dead end road. This was really exciting, and a bit nerve wracking, since it was my first arrest since working on the force back in New York!”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tamarac's Public Art

The Tamarac Historical Society is proud to present a new display at City Hall (7525 N.W. 88th Avenue): Public Art in Tamarac. We invite you to stop by to see the new display in the atrium… and to learn about our City’s impressive art collection!

The Public Art Program was approved by the City Commission in May 2004. The intent and purpose of the City’s Public Art Program is to further the commitment of the city to provide art to beautify the appearance of the city, commemorate the city’s history and to enhance cultural opportunities throughout the city.

A public art in Tamarac is paid for using the Public Art Fund, which established as part of the Public Art Ordinance. This ordinance requires that 1% of the construction value of new projects or improvements be set aside for public art. These funds can not be used by the City for any other purpose and, if they go unused, must be returned to the developer or property owner.

The city’s current art collection includes 2 murals from Broward County Public Art and 6 additional sculptures placed around the city. These include:

Moment in Time: From Whence We Come and Moment in Time: To Whence We Go: both of these murals are located inside the Tamarac Public Library (8701 W. Commercial Boulevard). These two large murals are composed in fresco glass with ceramic tile borders. The artist, Raymond Olivero, states “In many public art projects inspiration often comes from the historical references of the community. In the case of Tamarac, this was a bit difficult because of its short history.” Mr. Olivero managed to document the day-to-day life in Tamarac as his inspiration.

Egretta Thula (Snowy Egret): Located at Tamarac Commons Park (Corner of McNab Road and Pine Island Road), this sculpture is by local artist George Gadson who also happens to be the current Chairman of the Tamarac Public Art Committee. Egretta Thula serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our wildlife and natural environment. The idea for the design was developed through a community participation process that solicited feedback from members of the business community, residents and children. Gadson’s states that through his sculptures he seeks to bring back to life the forgotten history found in many communities and capture civic memories through creative design works for public spaces.

Illusion: This modern stainless steel sculpture, was donated to the city by longtime Tamarac residents, Paul Yelin and Sally Robbins. Mr. Yelin stated “I [wanted] to bring some peace and beauty and diversion to the city.” The sculpture, which was originally located in front of the Tamarac Community Center on Commercial Boulevard is now located in front of Tamarac City Hall (7525 N.W. 88th Avenue). Leonardo Nierman, the artist, was interested in both physical and mathematical sciences, which he has applied to his art.

Eternal Flame, “In The Spirit of Peace”: This large installation is located at Tamarac’s Veterans Memorial Park (7825 Southgate Boulevard). The sculpture, by Beth Ravitz, was created to symbolize an everlasting flame, with each of its 5 abstract branches representing each branch of our Country’s armed services. The sculpture is silver in color during the day but transforms into a glowing flame by night.

Dawn and Dusk: These two sculptures are located between the Tamarac Community Center (8601 W. Commercial Boulevard) and the Tamarac Public Library (8701 W. Commercial Boulevard) were created by Jane De Decker. “I believe that art in public places has the power to create connections both among people and between people and their environment. Public art opens community dialogue and creates channels for reflection. It is my hope that my artwork will echo the identity of this culturally rich and pulsating community,” states the artist. Dawn and Dusk are bronze sculptures designed to celebrate the community rising to greet the day and then nestle in repose to put the sun to bed.

Under The Shadow Of A Big Tree: This large sculpture, located in Tephord Park (10003 Southgate Boulevard), was designed by Ilan Averbach. The artist’s vision was to create a sculpture/environment that creates a place with striking visual forms. The sculpture, which is on a raised area of the park, reaches out beyond itself by creating harmony with its immediate space. To quote the artist “I make artwork that transforms spaces into imaginary worlds. They shift scales, combine materials, and create forms to produce a sense of memory, dreams, imaginations and movement in space”.

Each work of these works of art are unique in their own right. Armed with this brief description of each, we hope you now have a keen desire to see each one in person for yourself. That is the best way for them to be truly appreciated.

New Displays Showcase Tamarac's History

Did you have a chance to see the Tamarac Historical Society’s latest display, “Early Tamarac Notables”, at City Hall? No? Well you’ll have a second opportunity now that the display has been moved to the Tamarac Community Center (8601 W. Commercial Boulevard)! The Historical Society has been given some wall space in the Community Center to display our City’s history and we invite you to stop by [the entrance to the ballroom] to read and enjoy learning about some of the people that helped shape the beginning of our city.

The Historical Society still has display space in the atrium at City Hall (7525 N.W. 88th Avenue). A new display has just recently been installed at City Hall celebrating “Tamarac Public Art”. Be sure to stop by and check it out!

Remember, the Historical Society is always looking for photos and memorabilia about our city. It doesn’t need to be old… just memorable. We are interested in knowing and talking to anyone who worked for Ken Behring when he began his quest to make Tamarac a city with a new ‘way of life’. Our city just passed the 48th anniversary of our its incorporation and the Historical Society is working very hard to research our beginnings so that we can share our findings in time for our 50th anniversary celebration in 2013.

So, if you have any photos, memorabilia, or stories to share, please contact the Historical Society at or call Chad Quinn at (954) 597-3523. Also, be sure to visit our blog that for a great overview of the work the Historical Society has been doing,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Discovering Tamarac’s History

(Originally published on June 22, 2011)
By: Barbara Tarnove, President, Tamarac Historical Society

I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked, or heard the question, “Why does Tamarac have a Historical Society?” Perhaps you wondered this yourself. If you allow me just a few moments of your time, hopefully I can answer your curiosity.

As one of the founding members of the Tamarac Historical Society I’ve always had an interest in history. I can explain that interest very simply: the PAST causes the PRESENT and the FUTURE.

Have you ever wondered why our fair city attracted so many retired residents? Or, what was the attraction way back in 1963 when our City’s founding father, Ken Behring, had a vision for a new development geared toward active retirees? What did he aim to provide that no other city offered? Why does our city have such an odd shape? What attracts people to move to Tamarac even today? And, does Behring’s original vision still hold true?

There are so many questions about our City and my goal, along with my fellow Historical Society members is to answer as many as we can… and then some! Our small, but dedicated, group of volunteers has been meeting for almost two years now to make sure we document the answers to as many of these questions as possible. To help us with our goal, we developed a mission: The City of Tamarac’s Historical Society will research, collect, preserve and exhibit the history of Tamarac with goals of enlightening the community about our heritage and passing on an enduring legacy for future generations.

How are we doing? Well, so far so good. Let me give you some insight about how Tamarac developed.

Ken Behring’s idea was to build houses with maintenance-free convenience lifestyle and recreation facilities of a condo combined with the privacy of a single-family home.

In 1962 he bought his first plot of land in what would soon become Tamarac. The first development was very successful and by July 1963 the new City of Tamarac was officially incorporated by the State of Florida. People flocked from near-by cities to be the first to experience this new lifestyle. Word of mouth, and clever advertising, helped spread the word north to friends and family in the northeast and mid-west states. The promise of a life of leisure, social gatherings, golf, well appointed and affordable homes and the promise of a maintenance-free lifestyle – for the low monthly fee of $23.00 – brought people in droves. To accommodate and deliver this dream life, each community of 250 homes included a large recreation center and an oversized pool. No other city had ever offered such a package deal!

The land that Behring bought was generally unsuitable for anything other than grazing land for cattle and a place for locals to ride their motorcycles. Paved roads were rare and canals and lakes were yet to be dredged – but they were all part of Behring’s vision and master plan for his new city.

Tamarac was an instant success! More land was needed to keep up with demand so Behring began buying up as much land as he could and the City grew westward. It was these land acquisitions (which could be a whole article in itself) which created our City’s unusual shape.

Behring’s personal passion for golf was why so many golf facilities were included in his master plan; this further attracted people to the city and played a major role in the idealized way of life he envisioned. His dream lasted for many years, even after he left Tamarac and the new developers continued to build out the city.

There are so many more stories; so much more detail we’ll continue to share as we go forward, in the mean time I hope I have peaked your interest. If you have knowledge to share or memorabilia to donate, please contact us at or call us at 954-597-3523

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Early Tamarac Notables

By: Barbara Tarnove, President, Tamarac Historical Society

Who is responsible for the way things are today? Those that came before us, for sure. What did they do? Did they sit around a table and plan every detail?

Did they think about what it would all mean years from then? Was the future part of the plan? Was it conceived by one and embellished by many? A few visionaries? Or perhaps it started one day and before they knew it the city grew so fast that it all just happened… I wonder. DO YOU WONDER?

The Tamarac Historical Society wonders all the time and that is what keeps us going. We need to know and know we will. Our small group is researching the early days of Tamarac to understand how we got to where we are today. There are some early notables that helped or were part of the shaping of our city.

Ken Behring, for sure, was the founding father. It was his dream to create a “way of life” that would allow residents to enjoy a complete life with recreation facilities and a maintenance free life style. Surrounding himself with the like of the first Mayor, William Morse, whose idea it was to create their own city, Tamarac was on it way to being that “way of life”.

The first residents of Tamarac came to the city with the influences of their former home towns, The Nyce’s from Geneva New York and the Hardy’s from Queens New York. Both husbands were in the banking business, so financially they saw Tamarac as a good buy. Both couples were active in the community, Mr. Nyce taught art classes, and wrote articles for the newspaper about mortgages and Mrs. Nyce was a social reporter. Mrs. Hardy was in charge of building the first library in the clubhouse. As residents began moving into their new homes, groups formed and committee’s sprang up in abundance. One such group formed the Tamarac Lakes Civic Association, led by the president Charles Paster. Paster a graduate of the University of Detroit majoring in Business Administration and Purple Heart recipient, took his civic duties very seriously. He later became a councilman and Vice Mayor of the city of Tamarac. His background certainly influenced his contributions.

As the city grew so did the experiences of its residents. Mr. and Mrs. Cox were the first in the Mainland’s. Their background was from Detroit where Mr. Cox worked for General Motors as an electrician, for over 25 years. With each new section the homes evolved as well. Mainland’s homes boasted solid marble window sills, recessed kitchen ceiling lighting, free wall to wall carpeting, two spacious bedrooms, garbage disposal and concrete driveways.

Tamarac was to have a home for everyone. For the more affluent buyers that the city was attracting, Vista Villa (The Woodlands) was conceived as a private country club community. This community came with a Von Hagge designed golf course and estate like home nestled amidst lush greenery and acre lots.

One of the greatest influences of the social scene was Fred Hoelscher, Mr.Tamarac. Hoelscher and his wife Zetta retired from Missouri where Fred was a chicken farmer in 1962. Fred quickly became the Recreation Director for the Behring Corporation where he promoted “The Tamarac Way of Life”. Fred re-enforced a life where people enjoyed good fellowship and keeping busy doing things together with other residents. He and his wife started a civic organization as each new clubhouse was completed. Fred was responsible for the Tamarac Lakes News Bulletin, a monthly newsletter keeping all the residents informed of the activities and goings on in their new community.

With an optimistic outlook on the growth of Tamarac, Doug Keller was the first City Administrator. Keller brought his experience to Tamarac from Fort Lauderdale where he worked for 12 years. With only 2000 residents when he started, he established the necessary Public Works Department, City Utilities Department, a Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Streets, Police and Fire Departments and a Division of Transportation. He certainly shaped the early beginning of our City.

Growing out of the Administrators newly formed departments, Ellis De Voe was named police chief. His prior experience came via Lighthouse Point where he was also Chief. De Voe established a fleet of 4 police cars equipped with 2 way radios that would patrol the entire city on a 24 hour basis. He hired the first patrolman , Larry Wark and gave him badge number one. Everyone felt safe seeing the patrol cars that replaced the security guards that previously held the safety duty and thanks to the Behring corporation each car carried a resuscitator as an added precaution.

As cities go, Tamarac was a very young city, being groomed for greatness, led by many experienced, well place individuals who saw a vision and made it a Way of Life.

Be sure to come by City Hall to check out our new display! (Photo above.)