Ken Behring moved to Fort Lauderdale in the early 60's and bought a piece of land. Today it is the city of Tamarac. Tamarac was the first city granted a charter to incorporate as a city before anyone lived there. (In the 60’s you could do things like that, if you had political connections). Ken Behring appointed the first Mayor, John Morse. (Since no one lived in Tamarac, there were no votes to count or elections to hold). Ken just appointed John as Mayor.
Tamarac was the first city that offered houses where all of the exterior maintenance was done by the city. Ken knew that northern folks wanted to have a small house in Florida, but didn’t want the maintenance headache, and he met that need with Tamarac.
Ken was also one of the pioneers of pre-fabricated houses. Not mobile homes - they were traditional homes on foundations, but they were manufactured and delivered to the site and assembled, not in months, but days. His factory had to be walled from view because people were coming from all over the world including Japan to see what he was doing. Ultimately, he abandoned the plan, mainly due to pressure from the construction trade unions who saw that his pre-fab concept could put their members out of work.
Ken hired my mother after seeing her at a Museum of Art event where she roasted members of Beaux Art, ( a Museum of Art support group) and a much anticipated and fretful annual occasion for Beaux Art. Ken said “You should be in Public Relations, call me if you are interested” My mother was teaching at Stranahan High School raising two children as a single mother. She called him, and became a Vice President of The Behring Corporation in charge of Public Relations. She hired Kate Hartland as her secretary, not because Kate had any office skills. Kate was just very funny, and very bright. Kate went on to become PR Director for United Federal Savings and Loan. (Another story for another time) When I was sick at Sunrise Middle School and sent home, or when I missed the bus, I would be picked up, not by my mother, but by James, Mr. Behring’s driver, in Ken’s limousine.
The Behring Corporation eventually went bust in a market crash. All of the company VP’s including my mother piled into Mr. Behring's limousine for a ride to the unemployment office.
Ken moved to California and made an even bigger fortune there. He was featured on the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous TV show. Later in life his proudest achievement, according to his autobiography, was founding a charity that provides wheelchairs for people around the world who otherwise wouldn’t have one.
Ken was involved with a failed plan for another city in Florida with Jackie Gleason as his partner.
The 1960’s was a time in Broward County where more than one man created a city out of thin air, flat land, some money, and nerve.
Thank you Ken Behring, for the City of Tamarac, for all of those wheelchairs, and for launching my mother's career in Public Relations.