Attorney, civic leader Edward Gothard, 60, dies suddenly
EDWARD P. GOTHARD, an attorney and civic leader, died suddenly earlier this morning after complaining of chest pains. Gothard, a partner in the legal firm of Nowalsky & Gothard, APLIC, had been a longtime leader and former president of Congregation Beth Israel. He was 60.
Along with his late mother Jackie Gothard, also a congregation president, Gothard was one of a key group who brought Beth Israel back from the brink of destruction following the flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The massive Canal Boulevard structure and all of its Torah scrolls and religious appurtenances were wholly destroyed or rendered profane.
Eddie Gothard helped to affect the displaced synagogue’s eventual movement to a rear chapel room at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, a room which they rented and called home for nearly six years. He was among a select few who negotiated a deal to purchase land from Gates of Prayer upon which they constructed and eventually dedicated a new synagogue in 2012.
A longtime member of the American Bar Association and the Louisiana State Bar Association, Gothard was a graduate of East Jefferson High School, whose first love was music. He attended Loyola University on a music scholarship briefly before focusing on a career in the law. He attended graduated Brandeis University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree before returning to New Orleans to attend the School of Law at Loyola University, where he earned a juris doctor degree in 1985.
Gothard worked for a short time with a large plaintiff firm in New Orleans and later associated with a small casualty defense firm. He then formed his own litigation firm under his own name for several years before he merged it into a partnership in 1997 with Leon Nowalsky, a fellow member of Beth Israel he knew well,
In addition to specialties in personal injury, unfair employment practices, child neglect and medical malpractice law, Gothard received severals honors. He was singled out in 2003 with the New Orleans Pro Bono Project for Distinguished Service award over his representation of abused and neglected children before the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. The Louisiana State Bar Association named him as their recipient for their “Pro Bono Publico Award” in 2004 for outstanding pro bono service to Louisiana’s indigent.
Gothard was named as a member of The Times-Picayune’s Top Rated Lawyers list in 2018 and was a 2017 honoree as one of America’s Most Honored professionals.
In addition to his work with Beth Israel, Gothard was a longtime board member and volunteer for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. However, his most dedicated efforts in the Jewish community were to the New Orleans Jewish Community Day School, as a president of the board and a longtime board member.
He was noted as a charismatic public speaker and peppered many of his remarks with clever jokes and witticisms. He enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid fisherman and hiker. Gothard was a highly regarded trumpet player and often played for special events including the annual Oktoberfest at the Deutches Haus in New Orleans and, for a short time, in Metairie. He also enjoyed singing in public. Gothard and his family were all dedicated Saints, Pelicans, and LSU fans and enjoyed attending games in person as well as watching the teams on TV.
Gothard is survived by his wife Blayne; his son Benjamin, two step-children Aimee Taylor (Arielle) and Taylor Vaughn (Georgia); his four siblings Yaacov Noah Gothard and Andrew Marc Gothard (Julie) of Atlanta, Shayna G. Kaufmann, Ph.D. (Eric) of San Diego and Dr. Sander Jay Gothard (Julie) of Plano, Texas; and two grandchildren.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions regarding public gatherings, visitation will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at Gate of Prayer Synagogue, located at 4000 W. Esplanade Ave. in Metairie (next to Congregation Beth Israel). Face masks and social distancing are required. A memorial service will begin at 11:00 a.m,, officiated by Rabbi Joshua Pernick. Overflow space will also be available for live stream viewing at Beth Israel, 4004 W. Esplanade Ave. A graveside service will follow in the New Beth Israel Cemetery, 4400 Canal Boulevard.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Eddie Gothard Memorial Fund at Congregation Beth Israel (www.bethisraelnola.com) 4004 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, LA 70002 or the charity of your choice. Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home of New Orleans is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be expressed online at www.lakelawnmetairie.com. For more information call 504-486-6331.