Michael Leible

9/1/2018

January 23, 1934 - September 1, 2018

The smile, the charm…

Born in Brooklyn, NY on January 23, 1934 to Jean and Arthur Leible, he grew up playing baseball in the Flatbush section, in the shadows of Ebbets Field and rooting for his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers (and rooting against the Yankees). On the friendly streets of 1940’s Brooklyn, he got to meet his heroes and commingle with them and their families. His idol, both on and off the field, was Jackie Robinson, whom he grew so close to, he even babysat his children.

Michael spent his summers at the beach and boardwalk of Coney Island where he developed his love of swimming and sun worshiping, eating Nathan’s Hot Dogs and Chow Mein Sandwiches. His first job was as a lifeguard on Bay 13.

He attended PS 217 and later Erasmus Hall High School, which was the top High School in the country at that time, boasting alumni Al Davis, Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Mae West and Clive Davis among many others. It was there he was voted Most Handsome student his senior year, but most importantly, it was where he honed his baseball skills rapidly developing into a slick fielding third baseman with a cannon for an arm. Michael could always be seen sporting his trademark #42 (an homage to his idol “Jackie).  Though not known for his power, Mike was very proud to have hit his only career home run at the field of Erasmus’ arch-rival Lincoln High.

Eventually it was his baseball prowess that caught the eyes of college recruiters. He ultimately, decided to accept a Baseball Scholarship to the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Things didn’t work out as planned on the field at “The U” and he ultimately left the school to play minor league baseball, before being told by legendary Dodgers executive, Al Campanis, that “you’re a terrific defensive third baseman, but you can’t hit and you can’t run, it might be time to find a new line of work.”  Leible returned to New York to complete his college degree at New York University, where he would earn his law degree as well. He served in the United States Army where he served with legendary entertainer, Elvis Presley, while they were both stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. He served nearly three years, including functioning as JAG, before being honorably discharged in 1960.

He began his professional career as a criminal defense attorney, but that didn’t last long. His strong conscience wouldn’t allow him to defend people he knew were guilty and he quickly changed paths to serve as legal counsel for Aetna Insurance for a brief time until he made a life changing decision in more ways than one. He decided the legal field wasn’t for him and moved into advertising. Not a popular decision with his parents, but it would prove to be one of the best decisions he ever made, both personally and professionally. He began working as an Ad Exec at Daniel and Charles, an advertising firm in Midtown Manhattan. While working his way up the corporate ladder during the “Mad Men” era in 1960’s NYC, a young secretary in the office named Patricia Kasbar caught his eye there. The two fell in love and married in the spring of 1967.

Though he thought baseball and later law were going to be his professions of choice, Advertising would prove to be his true calling. An Advertising Icon and innovator before “innovating” was a thing, Mike Leible was a salesman extraordinaire whether billboards, transit, street furniture, and later, choosing to work rather than retire, NASCAR - just because he could! He worked side by side with the likes of Governor Mario Cuomo, Home Run King Hank Aaron and Racing Champ Richard Petty. He created start-ups, sold businesses, ran remarkably successful agencies while sharing in his journey with those who wanted a mentor. If you didn’t learn from Mike you weren’t paying attention. He did it all with an honesty and an integrity rarely seen in what is known as cutthroat business.

Along the way, Michael and Patricia would go on two have two boys, Christopher and Matthew who became the centers of their universe. The Leible Family became entwined in the culture of their new home in Glen Rock, NJ and Michael became a pillar of the community. He would go on to serve as President of the Glen Rock Baseball Association, President of the Recreation Department for an astounding 25 years, and head up the Borough’s Youth Guidance Council, an arm of the Mayor’s committee set up to council teens and/or their families as a preventative measure to keep them from going into the criminal court system. All done as a volunteer in his “spare time”.

He was also instrumental in getting the Glen Rock Pool refurbished and re-designed into the showcase that it is today. As a longtime Pool member, he could always be seen in his familiar spot on the grass with his sun reflector, listening to the ballgame.

Michael was known for his baby blue eyes, always having a bronze tan (even in the winter) and his meticulous fashion sense (casual to him was a pink or orange button down shirt with three buttons open or his collar up with white pants and a pair of shined loafers (he always loved his shoes shined).  Later he would also be known for his platinum hair that required three brushes to maintain (even while he was hospitalized in his final months).

He read the newspapers cover to cover every day and did the New York Times crossword puzzle every night. Even in his final days he asked for the New York Post so he could read the sports, the conservative news and Page Six.

He was an enormous sports fan, never missed a boxing match including attending Ali/Frazier I at Madison Square Garden and countless other matches including those his all-time favorite fighter Sugar Ray Robinson. He loved the “Sport of Kings” Horse Racing, and was a OTB (Off Track Betting) loyalist, betting a 4-2 Daily Double, literally every day (also in honor of Jackie Robinson). The best football players he ever saw were Sid Luckman, Marion Motley and the legend Jim Brown, whom he would later have the pleasure of working with. He was a New York Jets and Nets fanatic, but his fanaticism to anything couldn’t hold a candle to that of his New York Mets.

Attending a Mets-Dodgers game in 1962 at the Polo Grounds and rooting for the Dodgers, he thought for a moment and said to himself, “this team left me, why am I rooting for a team that moved 3000 miles away?”. He began to chant “Let’s Go Mets”. And the rest was history…He never missed a game over the next 56 years, often attending in person at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and ultimately Citi Field. He would always say, “there is nothing better than a day when the Mets win and the Yankees lose.”

He was so proud of his sons. Chris, working in the Mets front office and eventually became a baseball player agent and Matt following in his footsteps and becoming a successful advertising exec.

Chris opened new doors to Michael as he was able to hob knob with his favorite ballplayers becoming a defecto father figure to Mets stars John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo and Jose Reyes. Matt was able to introduce him to a new generation in the advertising world, and the two were able to work together to form a dream team (in more ways than one).

Michael became the proud Papa to his four grandchildren: Thomas, Charlotte, Cane and Michael Ray.

In the end, he always just thought of himself as a Brooklyn boy. Brooklyn was in his heart and soul. Everyone and everything to him was “The Best”!

Michael is survived by his wife Patricia

Sons Christopher and Matthew

Daughters in-law Wileydi and Samantha

Grandchildren Thomas, Charlotte, Cane, and Michael Ray
And countless friends

The family will receive relatives and friends for memorial visitation on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 4-7 pm with military honors and service following at Vander Plaat-Caggiano Funeral Home.

Donations in memory of Michael may be made to the University of Miami Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility http://give2ipf.com/ or a charity of choice.

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Matt and Chris (and of course Mrs. Leible)- Your Dad was our idol growing up playing stickball, wiffle ball, and baseball at Coleman School. He was vivacious, warm, and a role model. I always enjoyed our conversations at Dunkin Donuts and the GR Pool in my adult years. I loved bringing him olives to snack on in his poolside lawn chair as we chatted about memories, the future, and what was most important to him, his family. Rest in Peace Mr. Leible. We miss ya tons.
Paul Fremder
9/21/2018
I am so sorry to hear of Mike's passing. I had the privilege and the joy of working with him when I first started my career in outdoor advertising many moons ago. He was kind, HILARIOUS, generous and I could not have picked a greater person to help introduce me to the wild and wonderful world of outdoor advertising and all it's wonderful characters. Mike was my roommate at my first TAB Conference in Palm Springs, CA circa 1993. That conference and my experience rooming with Mike still bring me a laugh, and now a tear. So long my friend! Blue skies and Godspeed!
Arthur R. Rockwell
9/16/2018
We are greatly saddened to learn of Mikes passing. We knew Mike for many years from the pool, and our children's participation in GR Town sports. He was visibly absent from the pool this Summer, and we hoped that maybe he had retired and moved. We spoke with Mike every time we saw him at the pool. Although we never socialized, he greeted my Wife and I with that big grin, and kind words. We will miss Mike a great deal. Please accept the Boschetti Family's deepest sympathy. We were privileged to know Him. We are so very sorry.
Steven A. Boschetti
9/15/2018
Michael was truly one of a kind. Funny, loving, irreverent, kind, unafraid, and I could go on and on. I will never forget my years of commuting to Manhattan with my bus buddy and his crazy sense of humor....and the time that he gently picked my (crippled) father up off the ground when he had fallen and Michael was out walking Magic, tears streaming down Michael’s face. His pride in his boys and his love for his “Patricia.” I was blessed to know him (and all the Leible family) and loved my very special friend and neighbor. I will never forget him.
Joni Braverman Barocas
9/14/2018
My deepest condolences for the loss of Mr. Leible. Growing up, he was a true icon in our little town. Thank you for sharing his story, I was not a very good ball player (baseball or soccer) but as a coach he always made you feel like you were good. That's what I remember most about Mr. Liable
Robert Alport
9/13/2018
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