Howard Falberg loved people, and people loved him back. Dogs, too. In fact, there is a New Yorker magazine cartoon that perfectly summed up Howard's ability to attract love and devotion. Everybody loved Howard.
Howard filled our lives, and the lives of so many others, with his kindness, his decency, and his charm. He made you happy just by being who he was.
Howard grew up in the Bronx, born to an immigrant father who worked in the deli he and his brother owned. Howard lived in a one-bedroom apartment with his parents and his brother, Warren. That deli came in hand; when other kids brought their teachers Christmas gifts, he brought them a salami. We imagine that the teachers like the salami best.
Howard took piano lessons as a boy. He was tall, smart, and academically inclined, graduating early from the Bronx High School of Science. He earned a full-ride scholarship to Columbia University. He worked his way through college, sometimes earning money playing the piano. One of his favorite memories was a summer job playing piano at a hotel in Central City, Colorado. His leadership skills were also in full bloom during college; he was Class President for the Class of '54, a member of the Knockums secret society, as well as Toastmasters.
What made Howard so popular? There was nothing phony about him. He just had a genuine goodness and an ability to talk to people.
Howard majored in History but after a short detour toward law school, decided that wasn't for him and earned an MBA. He remained devoted to Columbia for his entire life.
Howard enlisted in the Army, and, by a matter of chance and a friend who exchanged Howard's original Chicago with his for San Francisco, was sent serendipitously to San Francisco. One Sunday, he and other Jewish soldiers were invited to a bagel brunch at Congregation Emanuel, where he met Carol May, who had gone to help her friend volunteer to serve bagels. They were instantly attracted to each other, engaged, and married within three months of that initial meeting.
Howard's career was meteoric in nature. From working in Development at Columbia University to Recruiting for A&S Department Stores, he moved up the corporate ladder of success, reaching high-level executive positions in Human Resources at Federated Department Stores and Associated Dry Goods. He concluded his career as EVP for Human Resources Worldwide for May Co.
Howard and Carol lived in many cities, from Pleasant Hill, California, to Westbury, New York, and points in between, settling in Weston, Connecticut where he commuted to work in New York City for 20 years. In these various homes, they raised five children, Lisa, Debby, Vicki, Jeff, and Stephen, who predeceased them.
Howard had always wanted a pet, not something that could easily be accommodated in the one-bedroom apartment where he grew up. He and Carol had a couple of standard poodles, but then, in 1970, bought a pure-bred Golden Retriever puppy named Cleo. The breeder suggested they take her to a puppy match the following weekend. Cleo won a ribbon and the Falberg family was hooked! Howard and Carol were involved with dog shows: showing and breeding more than 30 champions, making friends in the dog show world, and Howard became a dog show judge. He founded the Greater St. Louis Golden Retriever Club and became president of the National Golden Retriever Club and the Canine Health Foundation. Howard and Carol took the name Westmont for their kennel. Westmont is a portmanteau of two of their former residences, Westbury and Montgomery, Ohio. Howard traveled around the country and to Canada, South America, Australia, and China for judging assignments.
After retirement, Howard and Carol moved to Poway, California. There, they helped build Ner Tamid Synagogue. Howard kept up his connection to Columbia, writing a monthly newsletter for alumni, and interviewing prospective students each year as part of their admissions process.
Carol died 15 years ago, after 49 years of marriage. Howard was grief-stricken, but also a very lucky man, and in 2009 met Deborah Davis through a mutual friend. They had just begun their tenth year of marriage, a tremendous gift of renewed love.
Howard was the kind of father you looked up to, who was good at giving hugs, and who lit up when seeing his children and grandchildren. He was kind, funny, relentlessly positive, and told funny stories that put his grandchildren at the center of the story.
The family invites your contributions to any of the following charities: Ner Tamid Synagogue in Poway, Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla, Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton, and the AKC Canine Health Foundation.