Bill Maus Jr. carried on his father's work

by Bernard McCormick Thursday, July 11, 2019 No Comment(s)

We were thinking of a way to celebrate Gold Coast magazine’s 55th anniversary next year. We can’t make quite the big deal we did for the 50th, with a fancy dinner and a special issue devoted to our history. This time we were considering publishing a hall of fame—people who appeared in our magazine for outstanding contributions to the community over the last 55 years. Most would be deceased, although there would be exceptions for people such as Don Shula.

We got the idea when we mentioned the name Theresa Castro to several people in their 20s. They had no idea who she was, and barely knew the term Castro Convertible, the business she and her husband Bernard built into an American icon. They were one of the first to use TV for advertising, with spots featuring their young daughter Bernadette showing how easily a child could open a sofa into a bed.

Theresa, an extrovert, and Bernard, just the opposite, supported everything in Broward County. Their lavish parties in Broward and at a sprawling ranch in Ocala are fondly recalled today by a dwindling few.

Among other names from the past that came to mind was Bill Maus. No, not the Bill you are thinking of. It is his father, who in 1940 came down from Petoskey, Michigan, and with partner Frank Hoffman opened a high-end men’s clothing store, Maus & Hoffman. Their success marked the beginning of Las Olas Boulevard as a popular shopping street. At one time, there were a dozen stores from Petoskey that followed Maus & Hoffman to Las Olas or other South Florida locations. Maus & Hoffman is the only one that survives.

The original Bill Maus was a champion of Las Olas. At the time, the boulevard had no good restaurants. He backed Louis Flematti in opening Le Café De Paris, which lasted for 50 years. When the elder Maus died in 1980, his oldest son, Bill Jr., took over as family patriarch of the growing Maus family and held that role until this week, when he died at age 88 at a second home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Bill Jr., was one of four siblings to work for Maus & Hoffman. His late mother was active in the business. His brother John runs the Palm Beach store. His late brother Tom worked with him on Las Olas, and a sister Jane Hearne ran the Naples store. There are still a number of family members in the business, including Tom Jr. who heads the Fort Lauderdale store, recently relocated to the Riverside Hotel. Bill Jr. never retired. He worked until the last few months of his life.

Bill Jr. carried on his father’s community spirit. In addition to his work on Las Olas, he was a generous supporter of his alma mater, Notre Dame, and St. Anthony Catholic School, which he and his seven children and numerous grandchildren attended. He was on the boards of Holy Cross Hospital and Ave Maria University. His many activities made the pages of Gold Coast numerous times.

He and his late wife Jane (Bidwill) found time to travel extensively, including frequent football weekends at Notre Dame. He will be buried in a cemetery there.

A number of descendants still work for Maus & Hoffman, but others in the large clan have branched prominently into finance and other fields.

The family asked expressions of sympathy to be made in donations in his name to St. Anthony Catholic School Development Foundation or Catholic Central High School in Burlington, Wisconsin.

A funeral service will be held Saturday at noon at St. Anthony Church. You can expect a large crowd to honor a memorable man and a life well lived.


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