Dr. Herbert Potash
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Obituary of Dr. Herbert M. Potash

Dr. Herbert M. Potash of Madison, NJ, passed away on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. He is survived by his loving wife and life partner of 63 years, Janice, son, David Potash and daughter-in-law Jenny Gibbs, daughter, Stephanie Barry and partner Kevin Drexler; grandchildren, Sam, Max, and Nicky Barry, Lydia and Michael Potash, and his beloved Welsh terrier, Jasper.

Herb, affectionately known as Doc by his family, was, like elder sister Betty, born in the Bronx, NY to parents Esther (Gordon) Potash and Saul Potash. The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Herb worked alongside his parents at their dry goods store in the Bronx, attended Hebrew school, and graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School at the age of 16. He then attended University of Chicago for his BA in Psychology, continued with his MA at Kent State University, and completed his PhD in Psychology at Michigan State University, where he met his wife. He ultimately attained his Diplomate in Professional Psychotherapy.

Dr. Potash had an illustrious career as both a university professor and a private practitioner. He began his teaching career at the University of New Hampshire, and then devoted over 30 years of his professional life to heading the Master’s Program in Clinical Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. During this time, Herb wrote two textbooks for use by his students and fellow practitioners. He also worked at two state clinics. Doc impacted thousands of future practitioners through his innovative approach to teaching and his dedication to existentialism, the therapeutic practice founded in deep reflection on what it is to be human. He maintained a private clinical practice in his home for decades, helping hundreds of people both professionally and personally. After retiring from teaching, Dr. Potash wrote Becoming Plumb Healthy for his grandchildren, sound and loving words of wisdom summarizing his philosophy with myriad life lessons. Anyone who knows Herb can extract his true essence from this book.

A connoisseur of life, Herb was a passionate gourmand, serving as the appetizer chef at his and Jan’s numerous dinner parties. He was fond of Spanish food, ice cream and Jan’s delicious homemade cherry pie. As an art enthusiast, he appreciated many Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters, especially the works of the Ashcan School. Herb loved classical music, particularly violin, as well musical theater and dance. He enjoyed being close to Broadway and took in hundreds of shows, plays, and concerts with his friends and family.

Doc most loved spending time with his family and was dubbed the King of Scrabble, as he never lost! He traveled extensively with all of them, from numerous trips to Europe, winters in Hollywood Beach, FL, and summers in Newport, RI, and Saratoga, NY. Herb always welcomed a new adventure. A sports enthusiast, Doc was a die hard Giants fan—both football and baseball— and often recounted the games he attended at the Polo Grounds before the boys of summer left for the west coast. Herb and Jan took up tap dancing later in life to help keep active and once surprised the entire family with a rousing performance of “We’re a Couple of Swells.” More recently, Herb joined a competitive bridge group and diligently worked for master points.

Thoroughbred horse racing was Herb’s other great passion. In his retirement years, he became part owner of several thoroughbred horses. One of them, Afleet Again, won a Breeder’s Cup race in 2012, and his triumph was among Herb’s happiest experiences. Herb most relished time in his beautiful home of over 50 years, gardening in the backyard oasis he and Jan grew together over the years.

In his own words: “I have been given the gift of love and have been able to give it back toothers. My life has been so full of meaning for me that I will never be fully obliterated by death. We conquer death by the affirmation of our own lives and by affirming the importance of thelives of loved ones who are no longer with us.”

In this spirit, Dr. Potash will be honored with a celebration of life in late summer. Contact CelebratingHerbertPotash@gmail.com for more information.

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