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Photos and Highlights from the Joyous Celebration of Howard Neu's Life Held March 23rd in South Florida

When I wrote about the passing of domain industry pioneer and personal friend Howard Neu on March 1, I noted that a celebration of his life would be held on March 23. My wife, Diana were at that event (held this past Saturday) and I wanted to share the uplifting experience with Howard's countless domain industry friends around the world.

Howard did not want a traditional funeral - no people dressed in black, sitting quietly and sadly mourning his passing. He wanted us to celebrate the time we had with him - and what great times those were! Ever the showman, Howard set the stage for light hearted socializing by picking a theme built around his beloved Miami Dolphins football team - and he knew exactly who could deliver what he had mind. 

That was Howard's beloved son-in-law and fellow football fanatic, Ira Goldberg, who is married to Howard's daughter, Wendy. The gregarious retired police captain also already knew how to stage big events. In the past that has almost always involved giving extravaganzas organized to provide under privileged local kids with everything from bicycles to basketballs to help them enjoy happy and healthy active lives.

If Howard wanted a football-themed celebration of life, Ira was darn sure going to make it happen and do it on a scale designed to match the immense size of Howard's heart and the extraordinary accomplishments he achieved in a stunningly diverse career. Howard has been successful as an accountant, an attorney, a judge, city councilman and mayor, a campaign strategist, an actor, singer and speaker, a conference promoter and domain investor and...well, there's more but you get the idea! (for details see our 2009 Cover Story profile of Howard).

Above: At bottom left, Howard's daughter, Wendy Goldberg, speaks with a guest at the meticulously decorated clubhouse where the Celebration of Life for Howard Neu was held Saturday, March 23, 2024 (one day after what would have been an 83rd birthday for Howard),

Below: Howard's son-in-law, Ira Goldberg, wearing a Dolphins jersey that Howard gifted him, produced and hosted the amazing event that drew over 150 people from all over the U.S. and as far away as Australia. The mirror behind Ira reflects part of the huge crowd he welcomed to the celebration honoring Howard. 

Above: The event looked like a Who's Who (Domain Industry edition) come to life. Left to right (including the two familiar faces you see behind the five people in front) are Eddie Sixto, Michael Castello (who flew in from California), David Castello, Domain King Rick Schwartz, attorney Ari Golberger, legendary domain investor Michael Berkens and the magnificent Bari Meyerson.

Below: Eddie with the domain pioneer who came the furthest to honor his great friend Howard, the pride of Melbourne, Australia, Michael Gilmour. (Thanks to Eddie for he photos above and below).

Above (left to right): Canada's Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz with my wife Diana and I. With Ilze, Michael Castello and Michael Gilmour in the house, we were almost embarrassed to admit we only had to drive over from Tampa - but it just goes to show you how widely loved Howard was and how far any of us would have been happy to go to honor him and support his wife Barbara and son Ray (both domain industry leaders in their own right).

Above: As I mentioned at the start, host Ira Goldberg's motto is go big or go home. His attention to detail included food service built completely around stadium fare - hot dogs, sandwiches, pizza, pasta salad and astonishing array of desserts. 

Below: While our readers all think of Howard in domain terms, we made up only about 20% of the crowd. The other 80% were people who have known Howard far longer than the 20-25 years the most senior domain industry people have. Left to right, Ari Goldberger, Bari Meyerson, Michael Berkens and Howard's long time T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference partner (2004-2014), Rick Schwartz, are among those who've known Howard since the early days of the show that was the first conference of its kind in this business. Rick had been with him since he called on Howard to do some legal work for him in 1999.

Above: Speaking of Ari, he (at right) and fellow attorney John Berryhill (left) - along with Howard Neu - comprised the famous Three Amigos. They were the first widely-known attorneys to specialize in domain related cases and their successes have been instrumental in protecting the rights of domain industry registrants, investors and developers from around the world. John and Ari are still getting it done today and we all benefit from precedent setting work they have done. 

Above (left to right): .CLUB Founder Colin Campbell and wife Kim with Barbara Neu and Diana Jackson. Like the Jacksons and Neus, the Campbells love dogs (one of Colin's current enterprises is Paw.com). Diana, who is an artist, brought Colin and Kim a color pencil drawing of their fur baby Ginger.  In addition to honoring Howard, the other reason so many domain people came together was to offer love and support for Barbara and Ray in this most difficult time.

Below: Ray (at right) speaking with friends at the Celebration of Life for for Howard. Barbara and Ray were primary care givers for Howard during his battle with pancreatic cancer. It was an incredibly difficult challenge as the fight neared its end but they rose to meet it, allowing Howard to pass peacefully at home.

Above: Barbara and Ray assembled a mind boggling array of Howard's memorabilia, including honors and awards he was given through the course of his multiple careers, so guests could enjoy seeing them too.

Below: They also took the time to print out our March 1 story about Howard's passing and some of the highlights of his life to assemble this poster board for attendees to see.

Above: After a couple of hours of socializing, Ira opened the floor for people to personally speak about Howard with his sister Veda, above, leading the way. Their father was a renowned cantor and both Howard and Veda inherited his gift for singing. I didn't know that about Veda until she sang several lovely verses in memory of Howard. By the way, the beautiful wreath at Veda's right was sent by domain industry pioneer Ammar Kubba, who regrettably was unable to attend in person.

Above: The audience listening to Veda and the many uplifting stores about Howard that followed from speakers he influenced by the way he lived his life. I spoke about our relationship and how humble Howard was about all of his accomplishments. Throughout the 20 years we've been close friends I was continually astounded to learn new things about him and what he had done before we met.

Below: Most of us assumed that Rick Schwartz would have known Howard longer than anyone else in our business, having met him in 1999. However, it turn out that Jeff Sass (below), who came into our business relatively late as the Chief Marketing Office for .CLUB (a role he now has with the .ART registry), has known Howard since 1994! Jeff not only knew Howard, he lived in the same neighborhood - and not only that - they also served on the Homeowner's Association Board together (a job that Jeff would no longer wish on his worst enemy but one that Howard, who served as President, adroitly mastered like everything else he did)! 

Above: I saved the best for last. Ira (#72 in your program) brought family members together at the front of the room to publicly thank Barbara for how she loved and supported Howard throughout their 35 years or marriage and care for him through the difficult final days of his life.

Below: When Ira did that, the entire audience rose to their feet to applaud Barbara.

Below: I realized the photo above captured only a portion of the standing ovation, so I switched to a wide angle lens and, with the crowd stretching from wall to wall - I still couldn't get them all in! It was a well deserved honor and appreciation for a very special woman.

Above: If there is one thing domain investors are known for when they get together, it is hanging around until they are tossed out of the place! Just before that moment arrived for us, we got a little more conversation and a couple of more photos in. Left to right are Rick Waters, Mark Ghoriafi, David Castello, Ron Jackson and Michael Castello.

Below: In my favorite photo of the day, Barbara wanted to get as many of the domain people who were still in the room together as she could for a "family portrait" of our crowd - and what a great memory this will always be.

 

Left to right: Seated are Bari Myerson, Michael Berkens, Rick Schwartz, Diana Jackson and Barbaba Neu. Standing are Eddie Sixto, Ray Dillman, John Berryhill, Dr. Chris Hartnett, Ari Goldberger, Justyna Ghoriafi, Mark Ghoriafi, Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz, Michael Mann, Larry Fischer, Michael Castello, Ron Jackson and Michael Gilmour

One last note. Howard Neu is still with us and always will be. Certainly in memories, but he also had a positive influence on who we are by treating us and others in a way that many of us try to emulate as best we can. As his time on this side of the veil was closing, Howard handled it with incredible dignity and grace. I'll thank him for that too when I see him again on other side! 

(Posted March 26, 2024)  

*****


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