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Play. Grow. Empower. -The River Way

River Soccer Club Est. 1996

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May, 2023

Howard Gerken - 1943-2023

On May 3, 2023, Delaware lost a soccer titan.  Howard O. Gerken passed away at the age of 80 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.  He dedicated over five decades to supporting the development of young people through education and youth soccer.

Howard is the founder of River Soccer Club and ran recreational leagues long before River Soccer Club was born.  To many, he is known as the ‘Godfather’ of soccer in Sussex County.  From running recreational programs to organizing travel teams to establishing River’s TOPSoccer program, he dedicated his life to providing boys and girls of all ages and abilities the chance to play soccer.  There would not be a River Soccer Club without Howard Gerken.

Howard retired from public education in 1999 after serving as both a teacher and administrator in the Christian School District and the Indian River school District.  He became a principal in the Indian River School District in 1975 at Sussex Central High School and spent the final 16 years of his career as the principal of Selbyville Middle School.

In 1973, Howard coached Christiana High School’s soccer team to the Delaware State Championship, and then he returned to coaching high school soccer in 2000 at Indian River High School, serving as the head boys’ and girls’ varsity coach.  He was a member of the coaching staff for Indian River High School’s Boys’ State Championship teams in 2013 and 2015.

Howard is a member of the DYSA Hall of Fame and the Indian River High School Soccer Hall of Fame.  He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Delaware High School Soccer Coaches Association after serving for 20 years as the Chairman of the Delaware High School State Tournament Committee.

A celebration of life is scheduled for July 8 at 2pm at Indian River High School in Dagsboro.  In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to River Soccer Club (PO Box 1366, Ocean View, DE 19970) or to Delaware Hospice (100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963).  Condolences may be sent online by visiting

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