Boats 01

Bert T. Laacks

March 6, 1936 ~ August 25, 2021 (age 85)


Bert T. Laacks –Set sail for his next port of call on August 25,2021

If Bert Laacks were dictating this to me, he would probably just describe himself as a pretty good sailor that loved to cook… but that does not begin to describe who Bert Laacks was, or the effect he had on so many.

Bert was born in Germany on March 6, 1936, just before the Great War.  Perhaps that experience gave him his zest for life.  He seemed to relish every day. 

At 19, sponsored by an uncle, he came to the US.  He loved this country and could see opportunity everywhere.  He enlisted in the US Army and as he spoke fluent German, was sent right back to Germany.  As he could type and was articulate, he was attached to Headquarters.  He loved to tell the story of writing his own orders - if you knew him, you might well imagine… skiing comes to mind.

Once he left the Military he was accepted to arguably, the oldest and finest hospitality management school in the world, Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne, from which he graduated in 1961.  He was hired by Intercontinental Hotels and built their first hotel in Beirut and 11 others.  Back in New York he was hired by Restaurant Associates and helped develop some of the most famous restaurants in the world such as the Four Seasons, Windows on the World, and the Rainbow room.   His last corporate job was managing the concessions at Yellowstone National Park.   There he managed 2,000 employees with a $1,000,000’s a week in Revenue.

By 1968, he knew he wanted a business of his own and purchased a nearly bankrupt Pal’s Captain’s Table in Deerfield Beach.  Here is where he really shined.  He set a high standard for the staff. The food was ranked as some of the highest quality in the country.  His magnetic personality invited guests into Pal’s as if into his own home.  Bert was the consummate host and the business flourished.  He counted John Pennekamp and the publisher, John Knight as friends.  He purchased Jack Eckard’s 52’ Yawl, “Panacea” and a Beechcraft Barron to meet her wherever she sailed.  I imagine the smells wafting from the galley were irresistible to the sailors in the anchorage.  He was a skilled pilot, flying throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. with his daughter, Kirsten.  Bert loved Classical Music and helped fund the Broward Center for the performing Arts.

He sold Pal’s and “Retired” in 1985. He had a Custom 62’ sloop, “Epicurus” built in Finland, in which he cruised Europe and sailed trans-Atlantic.  In 1988 he met the love of his life, Patty Piffath.  He became well known throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas as a generous host, consummate cook and wonderful friend.   Bert will be missed by so many for his integrity, generosity, and love of life.

He is survived by his wife Patty; daughter, Kirsten Flegel; son-in-law, Todd Flegel, and grandsons, Keenan and Noah.  Donations can be made to the Kirk Cottrell Foundation, sponsored by Island Water Sports at MyGiving with NCF.

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