NO. 17373 • 7 Sept 1926 – 21 Nov 2001
Died in Old Lyme, CT
Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY
Harold Aaron Gottesman, born in Newark, NJ, was the oldest of Sadie and Joseph Gottesman’s four children. Known as "Hal," he skipped a grade in elementary school and was an A student. Throughout his academic, military, and business ventures, Harold’s mental agility would leave others admiring his ability to concentrate and to bring all of his knowledge to bear on a challenge. Studying and solving problems and helping others find the answers, too was Harold's passion, and his mind was every bit as wonderful as the machines and concepts he spent a lifetime mastering.
Harold graduated from Hillside High School in 1943 and, already interested in engineering, enrolled at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Studying through the summers, passing two classes that met simultaneously, and taking a late night job as an elevator operator so he could study while working, Harold earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering in just three years.
Harold knew the role the military played in American life and, especially, in his preferred scientific fields of study. He wanted to continue his schooling with the best and brightest, and that meant West Point.
A member of Company E-2, Harold quickly gained a reputation as one of the top academic performers. As much as Harold enjoyed learning, he also enjoyed helping others learn. One of his roommates, Andrew Rutherford, remembered Harold was often his savior when it came to math and science courses. Jerome Waldor, another classmate and a lifelong friend, said Harold was always generous with his academic skills even if it cost him time or effort. He tutored and was always available to help cadets who needed it. Harold earned the Veterans of Foreign Wars prize in physics, finishing at the top of the class in that subject. He also participated in the French Club, Radio Club, Pointer, Jewish Chapel Choir, and Ski Club.
Harold left West Point with a fierce appreciation for American freedoms and the costs of protecting them. Later in life, he would become deeply involved with the West Point Jewish Chapel and the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.
Harold met Barbara Freid of Brooklyn, NY, shortly before his First Class year, when he and classmate Ben Lewis visited Ben’s sister at the summer camp in Maine where she and Barbara were counselors. Harold and Barbara married after graduation.
Harold entered the Air Force and completed primary flight training at Connelly Air Force Base, Waco, TX. He did a stint in Enid, OK, for advanced flight training before being assigned to Mather Field in Sacramento, CA, where he flew training missions. His last post was Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX, where he oversaw a unit ferrying airplane engines around the country.
Harold left the military in early 1954 to begin a business career in New Jersey. After jobs with his father’s handkerchief company and the Cooper Alloy Corporation, a great opportunity arose when his father purchased an old industrial building on Edison Place in Newark. Because the site was near the railroad station, Joseph decided to demolish the structure and construct a parking lot. He suggested that Harold and brother Jerry (USNA '52) operate the lot. The business opened in February 1956.
"We were working like crazy," recalls Jerry. "Dad saw us going from $11 to $40 to $80 to $ 100. What else could he be but happy? He got pleasure out of seeing us working hard together."
Edison Park Fast expanded quickly, and the Gottesman brothers became well known around the New York metropolitan area for their expertise, hard work, and first class operations. By the early 1970s, they owned or managed more than 150 locations and consulted for others who needed help building or running parking facilities.
The Gottesmans expanded into the ministorage business in the 1970s, opening Manhattan Mini Storage for New Yorkers who needed space to store their extra belongings. In 1978, they purchased the Hippodrome, a 650,000 square foot office building in midtown Manhattan.
The real estate business suited Harold's fondness for both math and science. He had a mind for numbers and a specialty for coming up with solutions to the unique challenges that arose with each property. He loved to figure out what made a ticket spitter work or where to put an elevator, how to negotiate leases or when to change prices.
All his life, Harold credited the discipline, excellence, and leadership skills West Point espoused for much of his success in business. Employees and associates alike recall Harold as fair and eager to help others find the answers they needed. He enjoyed grinding out the details of any problem as much as top level meetings, and he took pride in the successes of the people around him.
Harold and Barbara had two daughters while living in Union, NJ: Ellen in 1954 and Robin in 1956. After moving to West Orange, NJ, they had a son, Andrew, in 1970. His children were the beneficiaries of his intelligence and experience, with help always available for everything from homework to home buying. Robin simply called him "The Answer." He and Barbara separated in 1987.
Harold sold much of the business to his brother in 1998 and retired to Old Lyme, CT, with his companion, Madelaine Goldish. There he was able to enjoy all of the tinkering and work a new home requires.
Harold never stopped learning or teaching. He was excited about helping his son succeed in business and treasured a phone call from one of his grandchildren looking for help with a math assignment. All who knew him are poorer for the passing of a mentor but also well prepared to solve the problems they face. That is his legacy.