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The Invaluable Legacy Howard Neu Left for the Domain Industry, His Family and Friends

Editor's Note: In this story, Barbara Neu noted that a Celebration of Howard's Life would be held on Saturday, March 23, 2024 with details to follow. We now have the time and location for the event. It will run from 12 noon to 4pm that day and will be held at the Pembroke Falls Clubhouse, 1651 NW 136th Avenue in Pembroke Pines, Florida 33028. Howard was a huge Miami Dolphins fan so the celebration will have a team theme with guests welcome to wear Dolphins attire if they wish. Important: This is in a gated community so if you plan to attend your name(s) must be on the list that the gatehouse attendant will receive. Just email that info to [email protected].  

The domain industry has lost one of its true giants with the passing T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference Co-Founder Howard Neu, a  pioneering domain attorney and one of the key architects of the global community our industry enjoys today. At the same time, Howard's family lost a devoted husband to wife Barbara, a loving father to his daughters, a doting grandfather with four grandchildren and an over-the-moon great grandfather with two great grandchildren.

When Howard passed, Barbara Dillman Neu, who is a domain industry treasure in her own right, and son Ray Dillman Neu called family and close friends, then shared the sad news with the public in a Facebook post Wednesday night (Feb. 28). Barbara wrote, "There are few words to express the deep pain and sorrow for the passing of the Love of my Life. Many of you may not know that Howard has been courageously battling pancreatic cancer for 18 months. With an original 3-6 month prognosis, he amazed his doctors and nurses, enduring 32 bi-weekly seven-hour chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and immunotherapy." 

Howard Neu

Howard & Barbara Neu

Barbara added, "Howard put up a tremendous fight and chose to keep his illness private. My heart is breaking but I know with the support of my wonderful family and friends we will get through this. We are planning a celebration of his life March 23 with details to follow." 

Howard and Barbara have won thousands of friends around the world and they are two of the closest friends, not just in the domain industry but in life, that my wife, Diana, and I have. So much so that, in addition to spending time together at every conference, we often vacationed together as well. Howard even officiated our daughter's wedding (and sang marvelously at the ceremony). Our daughter and son-in-law asked Howard to oversee their vows because they respected him in the same way we always have. 

Howard Neu officiating Brittany and Davd's wedding in 2012. 
They gave us a beautiful new granddaughter that turned 1-year-old just last week.

Howard was one of the most intelligent and multi-talented people I've ever met. They say that cats have nine lives but they had nothing on Howard Neu who led professional lives as an accountant, attorney, judge, city councilman, mayor, TV host, actor, singer, domain investor, conference producer and community builder. That's 11 and I've probably missed a few more.

Still, it's not the quantity that is so impressive, it is the fact that he did everything so well. He was a true modern day Renaissance Man, a term that is defined as "one who has a broad knowledge of the arts, the sciences and the world at large. It implies a person whose curiosity was not limited to one esoteric field, but encompassed all arenas of human thought."

Now, that may sound like hyperbole that few could meet if put the test but, from personal experience, I almost think the person who provided the definition met Howard somewhere along the way. On beach vacations we would sometimes take off and walk for hours on Sarasota's Siesta Key talking about one thing after another - it could be any subject under the sun. Every time

Municipal Judge Howard Neu presiding
 in the North Miami city courtroom in 1975.

I would bring up something interesting I had read, confident that he would by surprised to hear it, Howard would not only reply that yes, he knew about that, but would then proceed to fill me in on all kinds of things about the subject that I didn't know." It was astonishing and of course, aggravating, but I still loved it! :-) 

Now, if you still don't believe Howard was a Renaissance Man, check out his outfit below! Admittedly, he had a good excuse on this particular occasion when he was called on to serve as the Grand Marshal in the North Miami Winternational Thanksgiving Day Parade and that required dressing up like Marc Antony. Still, I would bet that Howard never gave that costume back!

I won't go into all of the details of Howard's  life story here, as we already covered most of that in a  2009 DNJournal Cover Story about him that remains one of the most popular profiles we've published over the past 20 years. However, I do want to share some highlights for those who didn't have the opportunity to meet him, so you can see how this remarkable man came to be so knowledgeable in so many different fields.

Howard went to high school at Florida's North Miami High, then went to the University of Florida to spend 3 years as a Gator before transferring to the University of Miami for his senior year. After graduation at UM, he stayed over to earn a law degree by taking night classes while working as an accountant (his college major) during the day to pay for tuition.  After getting his law degree and winning that judicial appointment in North Miami, Howard dove into the world of politics.

Howard Neu running a winning race for a seat on the North Miami City Council in 1975.

That started with the young judge running for City Council and, armed with a push broom and a sharp intellect, he won a four-year term in office. The next logical step was to run for Mayor. Howard won that race too, then for good measure, he did it again when he ran for a second term.

A lot of TV shows and films were being shot in the Miami area and, as a local mayor, Howard met a lot of influential people in the entertainment world. He started getting invitations to perform as word spread that he had acted on stage and was also an exceptional singer. The latter talent brought Howard an invitation to sing the National Anthem at a Miami Dolphins game against the Green Bay Packers

Howard also earned speaking roles in feature films that decided to shoot in his town, including a role as the biology teacher in Porky's II (the sequel to the wildly popular comedy Porky's). On other movie sets he got to rub shoulders with Burt Reynolds, John Saxon and a number of other stars.

Howard Neu coming off the field at Miami's 
Joe Robbie Stadium after singing the National Anthem

Sill, for a guy who admitted his original dream was to become a rock star, nothing beat having people like Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees drop by the mayor's office!

Bee Gees member Maurice Gibb visiting North Miami Mayor Howard Neu.

To show you just just how much of a positive impact Howard made everywhere he went and in everything he did, the city of North Miami is flying their flags at half staff for the next week in his honor.

Having enjoyed success in politics, Howard decided it was time to pivot and take full advantage if his law degree in private practice. It was in that capacity that Howard happened to cross paths with the The Domain King, Rick Schwartz, in 1999. Howard had been involved in a highly publicized case that had implications for the newly emerging field of domain investment where Rick was a pioneer. In that role, Howard, along with John Berryhill and Ari Goldberger, became the most widely known attorneys who had expertise in legal matters involving domains. Collectively, they were known as the Three Amigos and they played a critical role in protecting domain owner's rights at a time they were under ferocious assault.

Howard Neu and Rick Schwartz

Howard and Rick's relationship blossomed into a full partnership and in October 2004 they launched the industry's first major conference for domain investors - T.R.A.F.F.I.C. - with an event that would change the trajectory of the business in a dramatic way - propelling it into the high orbit it maintains today. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. had an extraordinarily influential 10-year run that ended when Rick entered semi-rertirement while Howard, wife Barbara and son Ray moved forward with new shows under their own banners (Merge! and The Domain Conference).

Howard Neu, Barbara Neu and Ray Dillman Neu at the 
2015 edition  of THE Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

While T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and the conferences that followed provided a great opportunity to meet key players in person and learn the ins and outs of the industry, perhaps the most valuable role they played was accelerating the creation of a global community of domain investors and developers. Bringing people with a unique kinship together produced, through their increasing numbers and solidarity, the kind of political clout needed to protect the interests of its members. That in turn assures the kind of stability needed to attract further investment and spreads recognition of quality domains as high value assets

Today we have a strong Internet Commerce Association (ICA) that was born out of the efforts of insightful pioneers who kept their eye on what was needed for the long term success of the industry. The ICA was founded at the 2006 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Hollywood, Florida. Howard Neu and Rick Schwartz were among the founding members, putting the financial support and influence of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s parent company behind the new non-profit organization. That is one of several reasons why the ICA presented Howard with a Lifetime Achievement Award in an emotional webcast in January.

While Howard was justifiably proud of the role he, Barbara and Ray played in moving the domain industry forward - he was much prouder of the family that is grieving his loss now. Howard never tired of talking about his two daughters - and no wonder considering the bright, successful women and loving mothers that Carol Stolarski and Wendy Goldberg turned out to be.

Howard Neu's beloved daughters:
Wendy Goldberg
(left) and Carol Stolarski.

....and that's just the start of an illustrious and ever-growing family tree branching out from Howard.

Above: Howard surrounded by his daughters and four grandkids, Clockwise from Howard are daughter Carol, grandsons Chad Solarski, Brandon Goldberg, Brian Goldberg, daughter Wendy and granddaughter Alexa.

Below: Now let's talk about great grandkids! Left to right after Howard are grandson Brian Goldberg holding great grandson Matthew, daughter Wendy Goldberg holding grandson Myles and oldest grandson Brandon Goldberg - four generations in one photo (picture taken by Barbara, my favorite photographer).

Below: Wendy's husband, Ira Goldberg, is not in the photo above but no story about this family would be complete without him, so here we see Ira and Howard all decked out in their favorite team's gear!

Above: Howard at the center of some of the family members who
made a beeline for the cake and desserts at his 80th birthday party

After getting together with Howard and Barbara countless times through the years the most memorable one for us will always be the last one. Barbara wanted to get some close friends together to take Howard to his happy place, the beach, one more time. Our mutual friends, Colin and Kim Campbell made that possible in a spectacular way when they brought our group together at a beautiful beach home they have on North Captiva Island, located of Florida's Gulf Coast and accessible only by boat. We went at the end of October and it did wonders for Howard's morale as well as ours, especially after seeing him go through much over the previous year.

Left to right on North Capitiva Island October 2023: Julie & Joe Foster, Barbara & Howard Neu, Colin & Kim Campbell, Diana & Ron Jackson and, all the way from Australia, Michael Gilmour and Matt Herbert.

We talked several times on the phone after that. When the last call came, three days before he passed, Howard and Barbara were both on the line. They were personally calling family and a few friends to let them know that hospice had come into the home. Despite everything he went through and how sick he was, Howard still wanted to personally say goodbye. That is who he is and how strong his spirit remained at that late stage.

When the next call came from Barbara to let us know he was gone, there was one uplifting note. Howard, who loved piano music, had heard about "music therapy" being helpful for those suffering from pain, both mental and physical. Before they had a chance to look further into it, and with 

Howard's condition worsening, Barbara quickly improvised. Our mutual friend (and long-time domain investor), Rob Grant, is a very talented pianist and recording artist who released his first album, Lost at Sea, last year and it went straight to #1 on Billboard's Classical Music Chart. With Howard looking on from the family room, Barbara opened the sliding glass doors to their patio. It was a beautiful blue sky day with a nice breeze outside. Barbara put on Rob's CD and as the beautiful music played, the wind suddenly picked up. Howard turned his head toward the open doors and closed his eyes. Barbara and the hospice nurse said they felt a whoosh as if the wind was blowing from the inside out and at that moment Howard was gone. 

But is he really? I don't think so. I know for sure the memories he left will keep him with us until we go too - but beyond that - I believe the show goes on, just on a different stage - one where our rock star, Howard Neu, is playing right now.  

So, dear friend, we'll say goodbye for now, but we will catch up again at the next stop down the line!

Howard & Barbara Neu, Diana & Ron Jackson - all together on the beach one last time.

(Posted March 1, 2024) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:


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