LIVINGSTON, NJ — Howard “Howie” Gottlieb, co-founder of Livingston Pickleball and longtime Livingston resident, will be posthumously honored on Sunday with a plaque to be displayed at the Heritage Middle School tennis/pickleball courts.
Although he was heavily involved in many activities in Livingston throughout his life, Gottlieb is most known locally for helping to make pickleball an official sport in Livingston when the sport first began to rapidly increase in popularity nationwide.
“My dad heard that Livingston was offering pickleball lessons, and he decided to check it out,” said his daughter, Melissa. “The original group kept in touch and continued playing after the town-sponsored lessons ended, and that was how Livingston Pickleball was born. He was always recruiting people to play.”
Shortly after Gottlieb attended a pickleball program at Mt. Pleasant Middle School in 2015, he recruited fellow resident Michael Garber and a few others to join him in approaching the township about converting the Heritage tennis courts to include pickleball use.
“Garber met Howie at the Livingston town pool,” said Melissa. “He remembered that once Howie discovered pickleball, he wanted all of his friends and acquaintances to try it. Howie talked to everyone about this new game he found”
Garber mentioned that Gottlieb taught him to play pickleball after the Mt. Pleasant program ended.
“Howie recruited some of those players to play outdoors at the Northland tennis courts,” said Garber. “We probably have 500 players now. [We’re] lucky that no more than 75 have ever come together.”
Five years later, the Livingston Pickle Facebook page has 763 followers, and pickleball is now played every day from 8 a.m. to noon.
According to Garber, there are also games from 4 p.m. to dark on weekdays, and the courts can also be used from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. when school is in session.
Games are open to all and free to those looking to utilize the courts, which are located at Heritage Middle School and Northland Recreation Center and are now referred to as “Tennis/Pickleball” Courts in an effort to allow both tennis and pickleball players to share the courts harmoniously.
Pickleball lines were officially painted at the Northland courts in 2016 while the newly renovated courts at Heritage Middle School were unveiled in 2018 as part of a joint venture between the Livingston Township Council and Livingston Board of Education, who felt the dual-purpose courts would be an asset to the school community as well as the community at large.
Gottlieb, who died suddenly in February at the age of 77, was also an avid poker player, belonged to the West Essex YMCA and the town pool, played racquetball, had a weekly tennis match in the summers, enjoyed skiing and could often be found walking laps around the Memorial Oval.
Those who knew him personally remember Gottlieb as a kind man who was always smiling and enjoyed socializing.
Gottlieb was born in Newark, graduated from Weequahic High School and Rutgers University in Newark and also earned a master’s degree in public administration from New York University. He spent most of his career in civil service—first at the Newark Housing Authority and then as the business manager for the New Jersey Department of Corrections at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
In addition to Melissa, Gottlieb is also survived by his wife of 48 years, Suzanne; his mother, Thelma; and his sisters, Helen and Judith.
A plaque honoring Gottlieb will be unveiled in celebration of his legacy on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Heritage pickleball Courts. In addition to Gottlieb’s family and friends, members of the Livingston Township Council and the Livingston Board of Education will also be in attendance for the commemoration ceremony. All residents and pickleball players are invited to attend.
For more information about Livingston Pickleball, visit the Facebook page BY CLICKING HERE.
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