Covid Hits Close to Home for Seminole Hard Rock

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Max B. Osceola Jr., 70, who served for more than two decades as a Tribal Council Representative on the Seminole Tribal Council from the Hollywood Seminole Reservation, passed away late Thursday night from complications due to COVID-19 at Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Fla. He had been hospitalized for treatment of the coronavirus for several weeks, having previously expressed his frequent concern that everyone should take the virus very seriously.

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Osceola held the elected position of Tribal Council Representative from the Hollywood Seminole Reservation from 1985 through 2010.  He was elected and re-elected to 13 consecutive 2-year terms for the duration of his tenure.  He served on the Seminole Tribal Council, the 5-member elected governing body of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, during a time of major expansion of Seminole Gaming, which has grown to become one of the world’s most successful gaming operations.

Osceola often acted as an ambassador of the Seminole Tribe to the South Florida community and beyond. He was active in the region’s tourism industry and in many community organizations that positively impacted members of the Seminole Tribe and the larger population in South Florida, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Ann Storck Center and Winterfest.  He supported the Victory Junction Camp, a North Carolina nonprofit camp for children with serious medical conditions.  He was also an active motorcyclist and participated in the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America.

He was perhaps best known for his smile, infectious laugh and constant barrage of quips and one-liners, often referring to “BC” as the time “before casinos” at the Seminole Tribe.  His wife, Marge, said Max’s Seminole name translates to “storyteller,” a name he lived up to throughout his life.

At the 2006 New York press conference announcing the Seminole Tribe’s purchase of Hard Rock International, he uttered an original quote that was literally heard around the world when he said, “Our ancestors sold Manhattan for trinkets.  Today, with the acquisition of the Hard Rock Cafes, we’re going to buy it back one hamburger at a time.”

Chris Osceola, who currently serves as Tribal Council Representative for the Hollywood Seminole Reservation and is not related to Max, called him “a modern-day warrior and a true legend among his people and many others around the world.”

“He will forever be embedded in our hearts and the history of the Seminole Tribe,” said Chris Osceola.  “He was my friend and mentor and I will miss him dearly.  It has been an honor to call him my friend.  My sincere heartfelt condolences to his family and my sincere gratitude for sharing him with us.”

Max Osceola was born in August 1950 in Hollywood, Fla., and grew up on the Hollywood Seminole Reservation.  He graduated from McArthur High School in Hollywood and attended the University of Tampa, where he played college football.  He transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Okla., where Osceola and his team won a national college football championship.  He ultimately attended and graduated from the University of Miami and was a fervent supporter of Miami Hurricanes Football.

Osceola was most proud of his impact on the education of members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which extended full educational opportunities and benefits to all tribal members during his time as Tribal Council Representative.  Osceola was inducted into the Broward Education Foundation Hall of Fame in 2017.

In addition to his wife, Marge, Max is survived by his son Max Osceola III, daughter Melissa OsceolaDeMayo, daughter Meaghan Osceola, son Jeff Pelage, as well as several sisters and brothers, grandchildren and extended family.

Funeral services will be private.  A celebration of life will take place at some future time.  The family suggests donations to honor Max Osceola through the Max Osceola Memorial Scholarship Fund at the American Indian Graduate Center, the center for native scholarships, at www.aigcs.org.

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