Jun 28, 2021 3:37 PM

Neil Hirsch.
Neil Hirsch

A generous and passionate polo player and advocate for children, Neil S. Hirsch passed away on Thursday, June 24, at the age of 73 after courageously battling an illness for two years. His devoted wife, Dr. Laura De Luca, was at his side at their home in Wellington, Florida. Born on June 7, 1947, Neil became a member of the United States Polo Association in 1993 and founded the Bridgehampton Polo Club (now defunct) in Bridgehampton, New York, officially recognized by the USPA in 1995.

“Neil always made time for friends, and he always had time to talk, listen and give advice when asked. He was a true friend by all accounts and I will miss him very much.”  – Leighton Jordan, Northeastern Circuit Governor

“This is such a loss to polo and the Wellington community,” Nick Manifold said. “Neil was an aficionado of the sport. I was lucky to share the field with him on many occasions playing in Wellington [Florida], Greenwich [Connecticut] and his beloved Bridgehampton Polo Club [New York]. He loved to win but ultimately, he loved the game and the people more. He was someone who always had a smile and funny joke or comment in the most unlikely of situations. He was generous to everyone, loved his horses and the beautiful farm he designed and built. We will miss you pal.”

A savvy businessman from a young age, Neil revolutionized the trading of government, fixed income and foreign exchange securities by creating technology to collect and disseminate information not otherwise available to traders at the time. Starting Telerate when he was 21-years-old, Neil expanded the business into over 80 countries when he orchestrated its sale to Dow Jones in 1990. After two years on the Dow Jones Board of Directors and its management committee, Neil left and acquired a controlling interest in LoanNet, which he later sold.

Neil Hirsch co-owned Black Watch polo team, pictured with Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Nacho Figueras.
Neil Hirsch (far right) co-owned Black Watch polo team, pictured with Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Nacho Figueras.

Moving to Wellington, Florida, in 1994, Neil co-owned Black Watch polo team, competing in and qualifying for tournament finals such as the 2005 C.V. Whitney Cup® (International Polo Club Palm Beach) and 2004 USPA Gold Cup® (Greenwich Polo Club). An avid player in Wellington and owner of the local Player’s Club, Neil maintained a special attachment to his own Bridgehampton Polo Club. “Neil had been friends with Peter Brant since they were 14 years old and together they envisioned the Bridgehampton Polo Club,” Jordan said. “My involvement in the build began my own friendship with Neil. He was filled with wonderful ideas and was instrumental in building up the club. His knowledge of everything Hamptons really allowed it to flourish. He also started the club magazine, clothing line, and built the scoreboard which was ahead of its time.”

An active figure in the Wellington community for the last 20 years, Neil supported local organizations such as the Palm Beach County Sheriff Department, but his personal dedication to helping children reach their full potential led him to build the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club in 2012. Donating $1.5 million dollars to fund the project, Neil worked tirelessly to provide loving support to his “kids,” helping to provide thousands with after-school programs. "Neil Hirsch will be remembered by many for his business acumen, witty personality, love of singing and generosity to his friends and the community […] His support for the Boys & Girls Club far exceeded his name on a building," Jaene Miranda, CEO of Wellington's Boys and Girls Club, commented.

Neil Hirsch competing at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (Wellington, Florida).
Neil Hirsch competing at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (Wellington, Florida).

His generosity extending to the polo community, Neil’s legacy will also live on through Yale Polo. “When Yale University decided to end the polo program and close the barn, Neil was the first in line to help save the club through his donation of horses, tack, and truck and trailer,” Jordan shared. “He was an instrumental part of the board, helping to shape the club that exists today.”

Neil’s integrity, impeccable taste, sense of humor and zest for life was much admired among his friends and will be sorely missed. “Rest in peace my friend, I will miss you very much,” Black Watch teammate Nacho Figueras said. “Thank you for believing in me and for our friendship. Thank you for teaching me so much and for what you did for others. I will remember you forever, until the next match somewhere magical.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington, Florida, in Neil's memory.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.