Boca, New York join to mourn death of philanthropist Harvey Sandler


By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Friends, relatives and colleagues of Harvey Sandler in Boca Raton and New York are mourning the passing last month of the philanthropist and community activist who, with wife, Phyllis, endowed many area charities.

Sandler, who died on New Year’s Day at age 77, has been remembered since his death for his many contributions to various segments of the community.

“A few weeks ago, we lost Harvey Sandler, a man who said that everyone should give and give and give until it feels good,” Jan Savarick, co-chair of the OPAL (Outstanding People and Leaders) Awards, said during the Jan. 18 event.

“Harvey loved life, he loved music, he loved dancing, he loved golf, he loved to play bridge,” said Savarick, former president of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation. The Sandlers also gave to the hospital.

“He was a self-made man,” she added, noting that he ascribed to the philosophy of spending the first half of one’s life making money; the second half, giving it away and enjoying.

During his career, Harvey Sandler owned Sandler Capital Management in New York and Phyllis worked as a financial planner for a life insurance company.

Together, they have named the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Pavilion at the Lynn Cancer Center and The Phyllis Sandler Center for Living Well at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. They also named and endowed The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Center for Jewish Life Enhancement at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center.

“Harvey and his wife Phyllis have had such a tremendous impact on the Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s ability to deliver outstanding medical care,” Boca Regional Hospital president Mark Larkin said. “In the last 25 years, Harvey’s gifts have help to build new buildings, purchase new equipment and literally touched the lives of as many people who live in Boca Raton today, about 600,000. Creating the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Pavilion, The Phyllis Sandler Center for Living Well, the Sandler Medical Plaza on Glades Road, and many other areas of the Hospital. He made a profound difference on the lives of the people in this community!”

The Sandlers are also one of the largest contributors to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and created the organization’s Sandler Family Major Gifts annual event. In 2017, Florida Atlantic University announced a $7.25 million gift from Phyllis and Harvey to name The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry.

The FAU School of Social Work provided this statement: “Words cannot describe the loss we are feeling within our school and college at this time. Harvey Sandler and the entire Sandler family have continually supported the school with their transformative gift, compassion, kindness and generosity.”

“In addition to the naming and endowing of our school, the Sandler family has been integral to the funding of students’ scholarships through the annual Phyllis Sandler Heart of Social Work event, which is the school’s largest fundraiser.”

Also, “We at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County are shocked and deeply saddened at the untimely passing of Harvey Sandler, a pillar of our Federation and the Jewish and wider South Palm Beach County community,” the Federation said in a statement. “The profound loss of this man whose compassion, kindness and generosity inspired his towering philanthropy, shakes our entire community.”

Crowds of mourners attended a funeral for Harvey Sandler Jan. 5 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton. Besides his wife, he leaves five children and 17 grandchildren.