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In Memoriam

In Memoriam of the handball community members who have passed away.  Online obituary notices and pictures can be emailed to U.S. Handball This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

July 2020

Charles W. Girkin, Houston, Texas

Charles W. Girkin was born on March 14, 1944, in Jackson, Michigan to Emery and Betty Girkin. He passed away on Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Houston, Texas.

He is survived by his son, David Girkin, and his two grandsons, Charles and Walker Girkin. Charles moved to Houston in 1974 and never looked back. He started working in 1977 in the oil and gas manufacturing field and eventually started his own company, Charles W Girkin, Inc., in the early ’80s. He was well known and successful in his field and loved what he was doing.

In his personal time, he enjoyed many hobbies which included riding bicycles and motorcycles, playing handball, windsurfing, swimming, and bird watching. He especially loved spending time with his grandsons, going to museums and parks along with other fun activities. He adored them, and they will greatly miss him.

A virtual memorial service was held on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 6:30 pm.

Donations may be made to the Houston Audubon Society, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the YMCA.

 

February 2020

Robert W. Schoning, Corvallis, Ore. 


Sept. 29, 1923 – Feb. 14, 2020

Longtime Corvallis resident, noted fisheries expert and family patriarch, Robert (“Bob”) Schoning, Colonel, USMC (Ret) passed away on February 14, 2020, at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice in Albany at the age of 96.

He was born September 29, 1923, in Seattle, Washington to Nils Wilhelm and Olive Jeanette (Anderson) Schoning. He grew up in Seattle, attended Stevens Grade School, graduated from Garfield High School and entered the University of Washington, where he began playing handball.

After the United States entered WWII during his second year of college and knowing he would be drafted, he chose instead to enlist in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1942, mainly because his father had been a Marine during WWI. While in college, he attended boot camp and officer training school. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Fisheries in 1944. In May 1945, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and sent overseas to China.

He returned from China in 1946 and chose to stay in the active reserves. He went back to the University of Washington for graduate work in fisheries, but did not finish his master’s studies. Instead, in 1947, he began working for the Oregon Fish Commission (OFC) as a field biologist stationed on the Columbia River. At this time, he was offered an athletic membership at the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC). For the next 23 years, Bob Schoning became the dominant handball player in the Northwest, winning 59 titles in 90 tournament events.

In August 1950, Bob was recalled to active military duty, and a month later his unit was sent to Korea where he remained for the next year. He was involved in the Chosen Reservoir Campaign and was later awarded the Bronze Star for his courage in action on 14 February 1951. He remained in the active reserves until the mid-1970s when he transferred to the inactive reserves due to his civilian responsibilities in Washington, D.C. He officially retired from the U.S. Marine Corps on 29 Sept 1983 with the rank of colonel.

After returning from Korea in 1952, Bob married Barbara and resumed his work with the OFC. Over the next eighteen years, he worked as a fisheries biologist, Director of Research, and ultimately, Oregon State Fisheries Director. He continued playing handball and received third place in the 1968 national U.S. Handball Association Open Doubles tournament.

In 1971, after twenty-four years with the OFC, Bob moved to Washington, DC, and worked as the Deputy Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In 1973, he became the Director of the NMFS, where he helped formulate the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which established a 200-mile fishery conservation zone buffering the United States’ shorelines. This legislation made a massive impact on commercial fishing operations around the world and almost every other fishing country later created a similar law. It was one of his proudest accomplishments.

In 1978, Bob returned to Oregon, joining Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife as a visiting professor. He and Barbara had divorced after raising four sons. Bob remained at OSU until June 1982 when he switched to being a private consultant. That same month, he married Sandra. He was named the Fishery Worker of the Year by the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in 1985 and returned to Oregon State in Jan 1986 as courtesy faculty with Fisheries and Wildlife. The next year, he received the OSU Distinguished Service Award. He joined the advisory board of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and continued to serve there until finally retiring in 2011 at the age of eight-eight. In 2002, OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences named him a Diamond Pioneer and in 2007, he was inducted into OSU’s Hall of Fame. Bob had also been inducted into Garfield High School’s “Golden Grads” Hall of Fame in 1994. Bob and Sandra were married for 25 years until their divorce.

Overall, Bob worked for the government at various levels for fifty-three years. He also served for a combined total of fifteen years as a presidentially-appointed commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. He was a lifetime member of the Military Officers Association of America (formerly called The Retired Officers’ Association or TROAA), a dedicated member of various golf country clubs and an active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Corvallis for many years.

Some of Bob’s happiest memories were the many summer vacations his family spent out at Camp on Vashon Island with extended family at what was originally Grandma Anderson’s cabin and where he and Bill had spent time in their youth. Throughout his life, Bob participated in various sports and outside activities. He played several sports in high school and college and in addition to becoming a noted handball champion, he was also a lifelong golfer and avid salmon fisherman well into his retirement and beyond. After retirement, he continued to travel frequently to visit his brother in Seabeck, Washington, and one year, Bob and Bill (along with two others) motored Bill’s boat up to Alaska on a salmon-fishing trip. The two brothers also enjoyed various golfing trips together. In 2004, two of Bob’s sons (Randy and Kerry) took Bob on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Norway for his 80th birthday to visit his dad’s birthplace and cousins Randi and Ingrid. The cousins had also visited with Bob in Corvallis and at Seabeck on several occasions. Bob very actively supported OSU’s various sports teams and thoroughly enjoyed being able to attend local games and interact with the coaches and team players. If game night included a trip to the local KFC or some homemade tacos and a rousing game of Mexican Train, that was even better! All were his favorites and he enjoyed having company.

Like many of the “Greatest Generation”, Bob remained modest about his many accomplishments and awards and preferred to let the light shine on others. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and firmly believed that anything worth doing was worth doing well. If someone said it couldn’t be done, he asked “How could we do it” or “How can I help?” He always credited his parents and Grandma Anderson for his work ethic and willingness to go that extra step without being asked.

His passing leaves an irreplaceable hole in our family tapestry, but his spirit, values, and example, his love for family, God, and country, his charisma and wonderful stories will live on in our hearts and in our memories. He made a difference in the lives of so many and he will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, Bob!

He is survived by his four sons Randy, Kerry, Jim and Kip; three grandchildren Tiffany, Zane and Chimay; two nieces Cathy and Judy; two nephews Mark and Craig; four maternal cousins Paul, Rolf, Steven and Maren; and paternal cousins in Norway. He was preceded in death by his parents; the mother of his boys, Barbara; a nephew, Gary; his beloved brother, Bill and his sister-in-law, Gayjoy and his cousin Ingrid in Norway. He is also survived by Lynn Edwards and Sandra Schoning.

A celebration of life will be held at Grace Lutheran Church, 435 NW 21st Street in Corvallis at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. His ashes will be interned later in Seattle next to his brother at his request. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in Bob’s name to a charity of your choice or to Oregon State U.

 

William "Bill" Brady, Fargo, N.D.

William “Bill” Brady, 85, Fargo passed away Thursday, February 13, 2020, at Edgewood Vista, Fargo.

Bill was born August 29, 1934, to John and Anne (Anderson) Brady. He graduated from Mayville High School in 1952 where he excelled in both basketball and baseball. He attended NDSU before transferring to Mayville State, where he graduated with a degree in teaching. Bill began his teaching and coaching career in Lakota, ND before moving to Ada, MN, where he taught mathematics and coached basketball. He brought his team to the MN State Tournament in 1962. Bill married Bernadine “Dina” Eid on August 17, 1963. They lived in Cambridge, MN for 2 years before moving to Devils Lake, ND where he taught and coached at the Junior College. They later moved to Athens, GA where he furthered his education at the University of Georgia. Known as a human calculator, Bill earned his Doctorate in Statistics.

After completing his doctorate, Bill took a job at St. Cloud State for a year before moving to Fargo. He then worked for 20 years as an administrator for the Fargo Public Schools System. Retirement allowed Bill and Dina to spend their winters in Mesa, Arizona where Bill enjoyed playing tennis and pickleball.

Bill loved sports. In college, he played baseball and basketball. After college, he added racquetball, handball, and tennis. No one would know by his humble demeanor that he was inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, the North Dakota State Handball Hall of Fame, and the Mayville State University Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife Dina, Fargo, ND; children, Robyn (Karl) Borge, La Crosse, WI, Reid (Sarah) Brady, Fargo, ND, Erin (George) Watson, Wahpeton, ND; 8 grandchildren, Kolter Borge, Joy Watson, Meg Watson, Kaitlyn Borge, Maura Brady, Elsie Brady, Cray John Brady and Juliana Brady.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anne Brady.

The family would like to give a special thank you to Edgewood Vista for their wonderful care and friendship.

In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the Parkinson’s Foundation (marvbossartfoundation.org).


January 2020

Phil McLaughlin, Alton, Ill.

Phil McLaughlin (1944 - 2020) the Irish Whip.  Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Phil arrived in the USA in his early 20’s and was promptly drafted into the US Army. He completed his service and gained US citizenship. He moved to Alton, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

Phil won 12 Missouri State Handball Championships, including a 7-year run in the 40+ singles division from 1984 through 1990 and a 50+ singles division in 1999. He also won doubles championships with 4 different partners - the 1996 40+ division with Steve Campbell, the 1999 50+ division with Phil Bracken, the 2005 60+ division with Jim Ward, and the 2012 65+ division with Gary Brake. He was inducted into the Missouri Handball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Phil won the YMCA 40+ National Championship as well as a number of tournaments in Kansas City and throughout Illinois - Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington, Alton. He didn’t just play, he worked as tournament director of the Alton tournament, and he was a fixture helping out and greeting players at the Missouri State tournaments and the St. Louis Handball League. Phil was a long-time member of the St. Louis Hinder Club where he was elected to the Board of Directors.

Like many of his countrymen, Phil was quiet until you got him started on the subject of handball. He often shared his insights into the strategies and finer points of the game with veterans and novices alike. Phil was a non-discriminatory handball player - any race, creed, color, young, old, good, bad - he beat us all.


Ron Emberg, Houston, Texas

On Jan. 18, 2020, Ronald Edward Emberg, 90 years, while surrounded by family and friends, was lovingly embraced and escorted by angels to the gates of heaven, where his father, George Emberg, and his mother, Evelyn Emberg and sister, Dixie Emberg, were waiting for him.

He passed away at his residence, in Houston, Texas. He was born, May 6, 1929, in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served in the Armed Forces, as a radio operator, during the Korean War. He studied Petroleum Engineering, at the University of Houston. He was on the Houston Downtown YMCA Board of Directors. He was on the Board of Directors of the United States Handball Association (USHA).  In 1995, he was inducted into the USHA National Handball Hall of Fame. He won the USHA National Masters invitational and National 4 Wall Championship for ages 60, 65, and 70 in Doubles and Singles.

He was the CEO of AVR, Inc., an Ad Valorem tax and utility billing software company in Houston, Texas. In 1959, he started in the business. Over sixty years, his leadership guided multiple employees, during the changing times in the utility billing industry. He changed the lives of generations of families, who were his loyal employees.

He was proud to be an American. Besides loving playing Handball, he loved sports, travel, and woodworking around the house.  He lived his life as an honorable and loving man to his family, friends, and employees. He never wavered from his ethics, trustworthiness, and commitment to those individuals blessed enough to have known him.  He contributed, without hesitation, to anyone in need. He dearly loved his own family and his AVR family.

He is survived by Susan Emberg, his wife and business partner of 32 years, his daughters, Ree Emberg, Kelly Emberg and husband, Mike Padilla, his son, Mike Emberg, his daughter, Tamera Galdamez and husband, Jose Galdamez, and daughter, Theresa Rodriguez and husband, Stephen Rodriguez, his grandchildren, Ren Nelson, Dixie Mattingly, Thomas Gasper, Hannah Gasper, Ruby Stewart, Tyler Jenkel, Cole Brodin, Cheney Emberg, Jade Galdamez, Jacob Galdamez, Chloe Galdamez, Leah Galdamez, Emily Galdamez, Mia Rodriguez, Ava Rodriguez, Christian Rodriguez and 7 great-grandchildren, his sister, Phyllis Aisbet, his sister-in-law, Zell Reeves, his sister-in-law, Jody Rogers, and multiple nieces and nephews.

HANDBALL MAGAZINE's Tribute to Ron Emberg.


Ken Smolack, Manalapan, N.J.
Friends and Family Share Fond memories of "Meatball"

  • Bill Kennedy
         Longtime New York/New Jersey handball player and supporter of the game, Kenny Smolack, 73, passed away Jan. 9 in a New Jersey hospital.
         Kenny was an age-group runner-up to Dennis Hofflander in the 1964 national junior tournament as a player out of the fabled Castle Hill Club in the Bronx. As an adult, he was better known for his doubles play with partner Richie Greenwald, with whom he regularly challenged for the East Area championship.
         Kenny won numerous weekend tournament championships with a variety of partners, including Greenwald, John Marra Jr., Mike Meltzer, Lou Russo, and Bobby Harbatkin. He was perhaps more famous for being the author of a Handball magazine column,  “The Meatball Corner,”  published for more than 30 years.
         He ardently supported youth handball, running many tournaments and raising money for juniors to attend national and regional events.
    At his funeral  Jan. 14,  he was eulogized by Fred Lewis, Meltzer, his cousin Michael Levine and his stepson Fred Munsch Jr. He leaves his wife, Evelyn, stepsons Fred and Ed, stepdaughter Samantha, and three grandsons.
  • Howie Eisenberg
          The world of handball lost a formidable player, an important contributor, and a unique perspective with the passing of Ken Smolack. With his love of the game and lifelong involvement augmented by his benevolent objective commentary and recommendations, he was an outspoken proponent for the betterment of our sport. Even more importantly, Ken was a warm, loving person and a loyal friend. I will miss him greatly.
  • Mike Meltzer
         Kenny and I were friends since we were 6 years old. We met at the famous Castle Hill Beach Club in the Bronx. Handball was the game we loved and played every summer day. Together, we won many tournaments. He also won numerous tournaments with other partners. In addition, we ran many local tournaments where he supplied the hospitality, using his connections in the food industry. Kenny had a gruff exterior but a heart of gold. The Meltzer family will certainly miss their  “Uncle Kenny.”
  • Fred Lewis
        
    As I have said many times, one of the great benefits of playing handball over a lifetime is the friendships you acquire along the way.
         Kenny and I became acquainted over 65 years ago as members of the Castle Hill Beach Club in New York. Kenny was affectionately known as “Meatball” because he would walk around the club eating his grandmother’s meatballs from a plastic container. We were competitors in junior tournaments and then teamed up as partners in doubles tournaments.
         Kenny developed into a right-side doubles specialist, teaming with the likes of Lou Russo, Richie Greenwald, Jay Garsman, and others to win many championships. One of Kenny’s major accomplishments was coming in runner-up to Dennis Hofflander in the 1964 USHA junior national championships. Kenny scored in double figures against Hofflander, who crushed everyone else. (Dennis left me at 0 and 1 in the semifinals.)
    After I left New York for Miami and eventually Tucson, Kenny and I continued to keep in close contact. We would see each other at tournaments and often vacationed together in Las Vegas. I felt very proud when Kenny spoke on my behalf at my Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1993.
         Perhaps we were never closer than the last six months of his life, when he became very ill and bedridden. I tried to call him every day and offer words of encouragement. We talked about our families, handball, politics, and our favorite foods. Now that he is gone there is a huge void in my life. However, the great memories will be here forever.
  • Fred Munsch Jr.
        
    An old friend, a best friend, a confidant, a husband, a father-in-law, a Pop-Pop and a stepdad. These were some of the “titles” that Kenny Smolack took on as he became closer and a more integral part of my family.  
    The last title I mentioned was  “stepdad.”  While technically that is what he was to me, he was so much more than that. I was blessed to have known Kenny my entire life, but he took on a different role in the mid-1990s when he and my mom got married.  
         Over the 25 years that Mom and Kenny were married, Kenny became one of my closest friends and confidants. He was there for me as I entered the wonderful world of  “adulting.”  He helped me navigate those early years, and then as the years progressed, we seemed to be there for each other, always there to bounce an idea off one another.  
         As I got to know Kenny better, I realized what a kind and generous person he was. He was always there for someone whenever they needed it. Over the years, I came to appreciate Kenny’s love for food, cooking, and Frank Sinatra! He would always have us over for Passover and Rosh Hashanah, where I learned how to make a mean brisket and his trick to making a great matzo ball soup.  
    In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Kenny became “Pop-Pop” to my boys. Kenny epitomized the idea of a “doting grandfather.” He was there for countless ballgames and was their biggest fan, both on and off the field. For anyone who was willing to lend an ear, he would love to tell stories about what the boys were doing, what they accomplished, or just about the last conversation he had with them. Each one held a special place in his heart, and he holds a special place in all of our hearts.
         These past few months have been tough, but we are moving along. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think of him, reminisce about him and miss him. Until we meet again, my friend and Pop-Pop, we love you!

 

December 2019

Gerald T. Frank, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Gerald "Jerry" Frank passed away unexpectedly on December 15, 2019, surrounded by family and friends, at the age of 77. Jerry is survived by his beloved wife Janis, daughter Katie (Sal) Bando, son Andy (Britt), and his cherished granddaughters Mia, Maci and Genevieve. He was preceded in death by his parents Percy and Phyllis Frank, sisters Judy and Karen, and will be remembered by many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Growing up in Milwaukee, Jerry graduated from Washington High School in 1959 and attended UWM. While at UWM, he played varsity football, met his lifelong "brothers" of Delta Sigma Kappa and fell in love with his beautiful bride. In 1964, Jerry became a member of the Milwaukee Fire Department, where he proudly served the community for 39 years. He received countless awards during his tenure and retired as Deputy Fire Chief in 2003. As he often stated, "there is not a day that I don't look forward to going to work." As a firefighter, he cultivated his love of cooking and was therefore in charge of all family holiday meals. Jerry shared his sense of humor with his fellow firefighters and maintained those important relationships until his passing. His family's pride in his job as a firefighter was surpassed only by his own.

Jerry's life was filled with devoted pastimes and hobbies. He was a handball enthusiast, playing in international tournaments, where he made lifelong friends. He was one of the original members of the Wisconsin Athletic Club, following years at the old Eagle's Club, and helped establish the Irish Open Handball Tournament. Even after his playing days, he continued to organize and support local tournaments.

It cannot be overstated how important his family and friends were to Jerry. From family trips to Minocqua, guy's weekends in Lakewood, deer hunting in Wautoma, taking trips across the country with other couples, among others too numerous to mention here, Jerry lived to spend time with those he loved. He cherished spending time with his granddaughters, who enjoyed testing "poppy's" math skills and watching him in the kitchen. Over the next weeks and years, those who counted Jerry as a dear friend will share story after story (many not suitable for publication) to keep his memory alive. And as you read this, he is having a martini with Dick and Paul, knowing he had a good run.

Visitation will take place at SS Peter and Paul Parish, 2490 N. Cramer St., Milwaukee on Saturday, December 28th from 10am-1pm followed by the funeral Mass at 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hunger Task Force or Milwaukee Rescue Mission.      

November 2019

Jim McKee, Memphis, Tenn.

James “Jim” Edward McKee, 81, of Memphis, TN left this world to meet his Savior and run the streets of gold on November 30, 2019. He leaves his loving wife of 59 years, Marty McKee and daughter, Kim Hailey. Jim graduated from Treadwell High School where he was the captain and quarterback of the football team and also the pitcher for the baseball team. Jim received scholarships from Vanderbilt University where he was also the quarterback of the football team and pitcher for the baseball team. Jim was head commander of Vandy’s Army ROTC.

After graduation, he went to serve his country enlisting as a 2nd Lieutenant. During the Army he was a paratrooper, Captain of the Screaming Eagles football team, where he later coached. Jim was also a great athlete. He won seven National Handball Championships. He never played a game just to play. He played the game to win and he did. Mr. McKee was in Army Intelligence. In this lifetime he worked for 1st Tennessee Bank and Menard Gates and Mathis Insurance and Data Communications where he helped develop computer systems for TV stations.

The family will receive friends from 11:30 a.m., Thursday, December 5, 2019 at Memorial Park Funeral Home with the funeral to begin at 1 p.m. Entombment will be in the Memorial Park Mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in his honor to Central Church, 2005 E. Winchester Blvd., Collierville TN 38017 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

Neal Bocian, Danvers, Mass.

Neal Bocian - National Champion

     Neal Bocian, 69, born in Brooklyn, NY, was the 1982 USHA national 1-wall open doubles champion, 1985 USHA national 1-wall seniors doubles champion, # 2 in the country in the 1975 open singles, the 1971, 1972, 1973, 1980 open doubles succumbed to cancer surrounded by his family on November 11, 2019.

     Advertising impressario, business owner, avid golfer, member of The Ancient and Honorable Society, harmonica player, Neal entertained sick children as a clown at Boston Children’s Floating Hospital for the last 28 years. He was a passionate man with a big heart who loved life and gave it his all.
He is survived by his wife, Lori Wolf, his son, Craig, daughter, Erica, brother, nephew, Russel, step children, Erik and Alex Wolf, and grandchildren, Julian, Zachary, Gabriela, and Natalie. 
     The words below express my feelings about Neal.

Neal Bocian, My Protégé, My Good  Friend

A 21 year old lanky lefty started playing handball at the Coney Island handball courts in 1971. His graceful powerful swing caught my attention. The fact that it was very similar to mine, actually a mirror image, made it all the more intriguing to me.  Neal and I got to know each other and it became a delight to impart what I knew about the game and my philosophy of play to him.

I have always gotten great satisfaction from seeing positive performance from receptive students whether it was in mathematics or in sports. With his natural ability and intelligence Neal was a quick study. In a short time it became clear to me that despite his previous lack of experience against top players, Neal would be competitive at the highest level of 1-wall handball.

This was borne out as Neal ‘s game was an excellent complement to mine as we teamed up and  reached the finals of the nationals 3 consecutive times, beating a number of multiple champions along the way. Unfortunately for Neal, in addition to whatever positive aspects of play that I shared with him, I somehow also imparted my penchant for finishing second, as we were runners-up each of those years.

However as I came to appreciate many years later, coming in second in the country was a significant accomplishment.  It was especially significant considering my declining ability and Neal’s inexperience which was transcended by his aggressive play and will to win. We did have some good wins in each form of the game and finally did win a national championship together 14 years after our initial pairing.

Before that Neal became a champion in his own right dominating to win the national doubles with another partner.  His singles prowess was a bitter-sweet source of pride for me when Neal beat me in a tournament. With victories over some of the best players of his era, Neal established himself as more than a formidable player. Like his mentor, Neal got to the finals of the nationals singles, only to just fall short of the championship.

Neal’s handball accomplishments are just a part of the special person that he was. His intelligence and "innovativeness" have resulted in great success in the business world. He was a visionary, first realizing the potential of providing a simple print advertising vehicle for auto shows, then vertically expanding by becoming the printing company.  He was among the first to appreciate the power of the internet as an advertising medium learning its intricacies and applying that to develop a business successful beyond his previous efforts.

More important than his athletic and business accomplishments was Neal’s humanity.  In addition to being a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather, he gave of himself,  delighting sick children as a clown and juggler and being a loyal friend to many. He was a benefactor to handball, the sport he loved. His charitable contributions to others were well received and appreciated. I am very proud of the man that the 21 year old kid that I took under my wing became.

My biggest regret in living in California is infrequently seeing people who are very meaningful to me. My friend, Neal is one of those that I missed being with very much.  The few days that we spent together along with our wives and other friends 2 years ago in Florida were very poignant to me us. It was a special time with special friends. I cherish those moments and wish they could go on indefinitely.

Goodbye and rest in peace, my friend.

Howie Eisenberg

 

October 2019

Chatten Hayes, Portland, Ore.

If you have played in or watched any USHA National or World handball event in the last thirty years, you came to know one of the greatest supporters of the sport of handball:  Chatten Hayes

She was a ubiquitous presence at countless handball tournaments and events.  Whether it was assigning players and refs to a court, keeping the event running on time, recording scores, encouraging husband David Steinberg to play his best, serving on innumerable committees, making contact with local print and broadcast journalists, emceeing a banquet—all this and more amounts to the unparalleled level of enthusiastic involvement in handball that Chatten evinced over the decades.

The handball world lost this angel on October 21, 2019, at age 59 to ovarian cancer.  Chatten lived her final years with her usual gusto even as she battled the deadly disease with her
characteristic humor, grit and determination. 

A native Oregonian, Chatten was a world citizen, with a special love for Italy and Ireland.  She and husband David Steinberg also spent a recent holiday season in Belgium with close friends from the handball world.  When they ventured westward, it was often to their condo in Maui where they enjoyed the beauty of the island and various underwater pursuits.

After graduating from Portland State in 1982, Chatten shared her enthusiasm for life with all who met her, including her husband of thirty years, David Steinberg.  She adopted his chosen sport of competitive handball and became a leading figure in the national and world handball scenes.  The two together led the Pacific University handball team to four straight A-class national championships, 2016-2019.  She was instrumental in bringing 1,000 players to the 2009 World Championships held at the MAC in October that year, the largest gathering of handball players in North America to that point.

She was well-known for her stellar volunteering efforts in numerous Portland events and programs.

She is survived by her life partner, David Steinberg.  A celebration of her remarkable life is scheduled for January, 2020; further details will be forthcoming. Remembrances in her honor may be shared with the Chatten S. Hayes Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation.
-Mike Steele
  

July 2019

Morton (Marty) Goffstein, Las Vegas

The Magic of a Handball:  A Tribute to Hall of Famer and National Champion Marty Goffstein

   The Capell’s and the Goffstein’s have known each other for over 50 years.  Brother Geoff has competed with, and against Marty, since his early days at the San Jose Y.  Although Marty has not played, for some time, his list of achievements is long and impressive. 
   Since he moved to Las Vegas, our visits have been infrequent, but phone calls have been numerous.  Calling Marty always had the same greetings.  “How you doing Marty?”  “I’m doing great, and couldn’t be better!”
   Well, things weren’t great.  After numerous medical issues, we received a call from his daughter Andi, telling us that we better get down there, to say good-bye.  His son Garrett picked us up at the airport, and briefed us on his condition.  He had been unresponsive, for the last two days, and not to expect much.  Driving up to the hospital, I saw a huge Cross.  Imagine that, Marty Goffstein, in a Catholic hospital.  I couldn’t wait to talk to him about that.  Geoff had brought a handball with him, and had it in his pocket.
   When we got into the room, his eyes lite up, but he couldn’t move his arms.  He was so happy to see us. Sandi, his wife, helped us get him into a chair, so he was facing us, eye to eye.  Geoff said, “I have something for you.”  He handed him the ball, and he practically squeezed the air out of it!  Geoff took the ball back and sat down.  “Catch it Marty.”  He threw the ball to him, and it bounced off his chest.  His eyes became focused.  “Let’s try that again.”  Geoff threw the ball, and he caught it.  He bounced it back to us, and this continued for several minutes, Marty catching it every time.  Doctors came into the room, and couldn’t believe what they were seeing!  After the last toss and catch, Marty switched the ball from his left hand to his right, cocked his arm, and gave us that feared look, that we had seen so often.  It meant, get ready for a big hook serve that you have no chance to return. Marty won that last game against us, and that is the Marty that we always knew and loved.
   Marty died the next day, but the magic of a handball, will be remembered by all that saw it, forever.

-Jay and Geoff Capell

Morton (Marty) Goffstein passed away peacefully after a short illness on July 22, 2019. He was surrounded by his loving family.

Son of the late Max and Mollie Goffstein, Marty left St. Louis in 1960, moving to San Jose, Calif. Marty was the beloved husband of Sandi Goffstein and they were happily married for 42 years. They subsequently moved to Las Vegas, where they resided for 20 years.

While living in St. Louis, Marty spent much of his time actively engaged in sports at the YMHA, participating in basketball, fast-pitch softball and handball. He won many local and state handball championships in both singles and doubles and one National Doubles Championship while living in St. Louis.

Marty’s excellence in handball continued as a resident of San Jose, winning more local and state championships in singles and doubles. In all, Marty won four National Championships. Marty was inducted in the Northern California Handball Association Hall of Fame.

In addition to his wife, Sandi, Marty is survived by his children, Kathi, Andi (Jim), Garrett and Joshua; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. Marty’s brother and sister-in-law, Herb (Delores) Goffstein, both preceded him in death. He is survived by his brothers Sig (Judi) and Sanford (Phyllis) Goffstein, plus many friends.

If you wish to make a contribution in memory of Marty, please consider the Northern California Handball Association to support youth development (for more information on how to donate, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or any charity of your choice.

June 2019

Bernie Pritchard, Toronto, ONTARIO

Bernie Pritchard passed peacefully in Toronto on June 01, 2019 at age 98. He was a multiple Canadian National champ and won enough local and Northern New York trophies to fill the basement of his house in Toronto, including 10 straight City of Toronto championships. He also represented Canada and placed second to Jim Jacobs at the 1964 World Handball Championships held in New York City in 1964. Bernie was fittingly inducted into the Canadian Handball Hall of Fame in 2008. 

-Ted Pritchard

 

 

 

 

February 2019

Dick Sleeper with wife Kay at the 2004 Three-Wall Nationals. 

Richard Sleeper, Chicago, Ill. 

I can’t remember anything Dick Sleeper told me that was not educational, entertaining, or true. Most of what he told me, he related to his favorite topic –playing handball.
Not that he said much. He’d taken me under his wing when I was not good enough to enter a “C” tournament. His on-court words were usually limited to “nice shot” and “wow” – and I was so bad, he didn’t have to say either very frequently. But he did. The “wow” was probably said in awe of God’s grace in letting the ball do something wonderful after failing to go where I was aiming.

But his laconic persona was “pronounced” in everything he did. Looking back, I can safely say that handball has never had a more understated promoter. It wasn’t just his encouragement of kids, or his financial support of our tournaments (for which he rarely accepted recognition or accolade). The real truth is that Dick unassumingly nurtured the Chicago Metro Handball League from a loose association of police and firemen … to the greatest competitive handball arena America has ever known. For around six months straight, on any Tuesday night, some 200 players enjoyed competition and comaraderie in the League he shaped and quietly held together.

As I remember, our University of Chicago team -- with Vern Roberts, Dave Dohman, Scott Rosenthal, Chris Roberts, Bill Tillery, Marty Wallace, and Dick Sleeper -- won the top division several times. The first time we won, Dick put up his own money so we could have championship jackets. I had no illusions about why I was included – because I was a student, we could use the University’s field house for our matches.

But it was also true that Dick wanted me there – maybe he saw some promise in me that left others stumped. I just wasn’t very good. It was as if God had whispered to him that the world would be a better place if more of us played handball.

At Rainbow Beach, which was ground zero for 3-wall in Chicago, Dick befriended many other aspiring players who were young, hapless, or just plain helpless. While he was good enough to win several tournaments in several venues, he thought nothing of going in the court after four hard-fought games and “hitting it around” with novices, late-comers, and hangers-on. Of course, later in life, his shoulders and elbows would pay the price.

After all that play, and a few beers besides, he’d climb on his trusty 10-speed bike, exhausted, and pedal home, gloves hanging from the handlebars to dry. Home for Dick Sleeper was wherever his beautiful wife Kay was. He had fallen in love with her when she was a nursing student in Chicago. Together, they had three sons, all of whom now mourn the departure of his earthly life. Like us, they know that his spirit of love, acceptance, and quiet pride in our well-being remains in our midst.

-Eli Seaman


January 2019

Mike Weinberger, Moraga, Calif.

Michael (Mike) Joseph Weinberger, 64, died January 25, after bravely battling lymphoma for 15 months. All who met him were moved by Mike’s warmth, intelligence, creativity, integrity, sense of justice, and sharp and absurd sense of humor.

A 1972 graduate of BGHS, Mike earned a BA in Economics from BGSU in 1977 and went on to a 32-year career at UC-Berkeley. His love of handball brought him to the Department of Recreational Sports where he started working part-time and quickly rose to being Director, a position he called “the best job on campus.”  Mike was instrumental in bringing the USHA National Four-Wall Championships to Berkeley in 1988, still the largest-attended national tournament.

As Director, Mike pioneered IT in the 1980s, networking PCs and computerizing the budget process, both rare at the time. He was creative and adaptive, expanding revenue sources, upgrading facilities and expanding access to health, wellness and recreational activities for the entire campus community. The annual campus welcome event, Caltopia, was Mike’s brainchild, as was the B2H cross-campus collaborative custom-designed software, a joint project of IT professionals at UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis and UCLA. B2H is now used throughout the UC system for a wide range of services. Mike also pioneered hydration stations on campus for filling reusable water bottles, that are now commonly found nationwide. Mike received multiple campus awards, including the Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award. He was known for his warm and inspirational leadership, his sense of fairness, constructive and respectful supervision, and his sincere commitment to the well-being and development of staff.

Mike enjoyed reading history books and Foreign Affairs. He loved the humor collection in Funny Times, and gifted the newspaper to his parents and siblings. He enjoyed the old-timey humor and music of KPIG Radio, as well as Oakland A’s baseball, Cal football, Morris dancing, playing the fiddle, and hiking in Bay Area parks.

Mike was a loving and attentive husband, father, brother, son, and friend. He is forever in the hearts of his wife of 39 years, Julie, and his daughter Kathleen (fiancé Andrew Metrick). He is also missed by his mother, Kathleen Natalino, Akron; step-mother, Helene Weinberger, Bowling Green; and his surviving siblings: Elizabeth Phillips, MD; Mary Kay (Mike) Bishop, NH; Stephen (Chris) Weinberger, MA; Ann Weinberger (Rosco Rouse), NC; Margaret Weinberger, Bowling Green; Barbara Weinberger (Kurt Kleinmann), TX; Rosemary Weinberger (fiancé Greg Curtis), MA; Teresa Weinberger, Akron; Janet Weinberger, AL; and 3 step-siblings: Sandy (Chuck) Kern, MI; Sherry Spears, Findlay; and Rick (Stephanie) Chaney, WV. Mike was also a beloved uncle to Howard, Michelle, Kwame, Monica, David, Harolyn, Maura, Peter, Cameron, Elisabeth and Anna; and step-nieces and nephew Cara, Cristin, Callie, Caitlin, and Mason, as well as 6 great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Morris J. Weinberger, step-father Agostino Natalino, brother-in-law Harold Phillips, and his older sister Linda Weinberger.

The family is very grateful for the expert and compassionate care that Mike received during his illness at Alta Bates Summit Hospital, UCSF Medical Center, and the Berkeley Comprehensive Cancer Center. Donations in Mike’s memory would be welcome at any of these or any park. A celebration of Mike’s life will be held on Sunday, April 28 in the Simpson Garden Meeting Room, beginning at 4:00 pm, with food and fellowship immediately following.

 

Al Goldstein (far left) with Max Davidoff and Moe Orenstein circa 1954.

Al "the Teacher" Goldstein, Brooklyn, N.Y.

One-Wall Loses Its Teacher

One-wall handball has lost one of its strong competitors of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Al Goldstein, affectionately known as “the Teacher.” 
     Al graduated college as a physical education major, but he didn’t teach the subject long.  Early on in his career he was promoted to assistant-principal, eventually completing his career as a long-standing principal in a Brooklyn elementary school.  An intelligent and gentle soul, the Teacher was a fierce handball player possessed of great speed, power, and a hopping, skidding serve which provided no end of trouble for his opponents.  When Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach Baths ran its weekly sweeps for the best one-wall doubles players in the city, the Teacher was frequently invited along with Hall of Famers Vic Hershkowitz, Moey Orenstein, and, later on the three Obert brothers among others.  Al was good enough to play among those all-time greats.
     Although he never won an open title in either singles or doubles, he championed 4 times in masters doubles: AAU – 1962, and ’69, USHA – 1965 and ’69.  Before becoming a top handball player, Al was a strong enough basketball player in college to obtain membership in City College of New York’s Basketball Hall of Fame.  And after retiring from handball, he became a runner, always finishing the NYC Marathon even when well into his 80s.  In 2015 he was chosen to be a member of the NY Handball Hall of Fame.
     Those who knew him admired both his athleticism and his human decency.  He passed while nearing his 98th birthday.  And only until last year did he stop attending the National One-Wall Championships held in Coney Island.

-Dan Flickstein