Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Patriarch of UM/Sylvester Dies at Age 80


Sylvester moved from Rochester, New York, to Boca Raton in 1974 when his family relocated their business. His father, Harcourt M. Sylvester, Sr., founded FASCO Industries, Inc., which made electric motors for fans and automobiles. Harcourt Sylvester, Jr., graduated from Florida Southern College and then joined the staff of FASCO. He was President and Chief Operations Officer at the time the company was sold in 1980.

That same year, Sylvester lost his father to lung cancer. He became impassioned about fighting the disease and created the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation. The Foundation became fully funded in 1984 after the death of Virginia Sylvester. Sylvester called the University of Miami to offer his support to build a cancer center.

Under Harcourt Sylvester, Jr.’s leadership, the Foundation committed $27.5 million to create the only university-based cancer center in South Florida – UM/Sylvester. When Sylvester chose the University of Miami to help with his vision, it was no accident. He respected the reputation of the Miller School of Medicine but he also wanted to be very involved in bringing his vision to life.

Sylvester attended every meeting with architects to create the overall design concept. He was involved in the aesthetics of the building, from the waves on the façade, the colors, the wall hangings – he studied everything to ensure the patient experience would be as soothing as humanly possible. “His involvement in UM/Sylvester was unbelievable,” said Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., dean emeritus of the Miller School. “Even the fish tanks were recommended by him.”

“Mr. Sylvester was passionate both about finding cures for cancers and about the comfort of the patients,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine. “His great personal interest in the design of UM/Sylvester helped to craft a multidisciplinary cancer clinic designed around the needs of patients.”

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