Southwest Oklahoma lost a well-known civic leader, entrepreneur, military veteran and beloved member of his family. Jerome Jerry Maxwell Howard, 74, died Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at an Altus hospital after an extended illness. Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church with Dr. Travis Muse, pastor, officiating.
Burial will be at Ft. Sill National Cemetery in Elgin under the direction of Orr Gray Gish Funeral Home.
He was born to M. M. and Blanche Simmons Howard on Jan. 30, 1938, in Los Angeles, Calif., at East Los Angeles Hospital. When he was 5 years old, the family moved to San Antonio, Texas, and later to Brady, Texas, where he entered first grade. By seventh grade the family lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and he graduated from Fort Worths Polytechnic High School.
In 1956, he joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for basic training. He was transferred to Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., for electronics training; however, after a three-month hospitalization, due to an injury, no openings remained in the electronics school. So he became a supply stock records specialist, and the Air Force utilized his skills at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
After military service, Jerry returned to Fort Worth and studied business administration and marketing at Texas Wesleyan College. In 1961, he married Mary Beth George. He was employed by Kraft Foods and in 1972 transferred from Oklahoma City to Altus as the companys Southwest Oklahoma sales representative. He later worked two years for Carpenter Paper Co. before borrowing $15,000 to launch his own successful janitorial supply business, Howard Chemical.
As an Altus civic leader, he served as chairman of the Board of Adjustments for the City of Altus and was a long-time member of both the citys airport advisory board and the Altus Chamber of Commerce Board of Director, committee of 100 and the military affairs committee. He was chapter president of the Air Force Association and for many years was a member of the Air Force Associations Oklahoma State Board of Directors. In 1985, he was awarded a life membership in the association. Howard belonged to the First Christian Church in Altus and served on the church board of directors and as Sunday school superintendent. He joined Rotary in 1973 and held every office but president while living in Altus.
An avid aviation enthusiast, he started flying lessons at Fort Worths former Midwest Airport at age 16 in 1954. His job as a variety store stock boy paid $9.09 per week, enabling him to pay for a $9-per-hour flight lesson every two to three weeks. While in the military, he became supply officer for the Eglin Air Force Base Aero Club and soloed in a T-34. After military service, he received the required ratings for flight instructor and taught for Jack Robinson Flying Service at Meacham Field in Fort Worth. He owned three aircraft during his flying years, the last one an Aircoupe.
He closed Howard Chemical in 1989 and moved from Altus to Mansfield, Texas. In nearby Fort Worth, Howard took ballroom dancing lessons and participated in competitive dancing. In 1999, he returned to Southwest Oklahoma and settled in Frederick, where he gave group and private dancing instruction to hundreds of people. He also taught dancing at the country club in Vernon, Texas, and as an Oklahoma artist-in-residence taught ballroom dancing at Frederick High School and Frederick Junior High. He founded the Southwest Ballroom Dance Club in Frederick in 2006. Howard was a member of the Frederick Airport Commission, a senior-active Rotarian and attended Fredericks First United Methodist Church with his family.
He was a life-long learner and recently studied voice. At one time, he was a drummer for a band and he enjoyed attending symphony performances in Lawton, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls and Quartz Mountain.
His parents preceded him in death.
He is survived by three sons, the only three to pass along the Howard family name, Jeffrey Kent Howard and wife, Lisa Golden Howard, of Palm Beach Garden, Fla., Dr. Gregory Scott Howard and wife Wendy Reed Howard of Frederick, and Andrew Corey Howard of Dallas; three grandchildren, Grayson Howard of Norman, and Emily and Bailey Howard of Frederick; one brother, Warren Barry Howard of Mansfield, Texas; two sisters, Sue Hill of Denver, and Beth Ann Howard of Dallas; a special friend, Sue Harper of Frederick; and five nieces, Barrie Lynn and husband Chris Allen, and Elizabeth Howard, all of Mansfield, Texas, Lee Ann and husband Frank Clark of Dallas, Merredith and husband Brett Stine of Carrollton, Texas, and Kelley and husband Mathew Mordyke of Vail, Colo.; and one nephew, Adam Hill of Denver.
Memorial contributions may be made to Frederick Boy Scouts Troop #220, P. O. Box 216, Frederick, OK 73542, in loving memory of Jerry Howard.
An on-line guest book and sympathy cards are available at: www.OrrGrayGishfuneralhome.com or www.Tiptonfuneralhome.com