Take a minute to honor a great man


Tomorrow, John Ellis Newton Howard would have turned 100 years old. We lost a great friend when John passed away on November 16, 2018. It’s no secret that John, and his wife Dede, provided generous support to St. Joseph and many other communities across our Great Lake State. In honor of John’s 100th birthday, please allow me to reflect on the Howard’s generosity.

In 1997, city Commissioner Mary Goff approached me and asked me to meet with the Howards at 1200 Lake Boulevard. According to Mary, the couple had an interest in funding a pathway along the riverfront. I’ll never forget that day. I was introduced to the Howard’s pre dinner Rob Roy. John entertained us with his piano skills. The following year, Mayor Charles LaSata and the entire community cut the ribbon on the new Howard Family Path. Over the course of the next decade, the Howard’s contributed to the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena, Howard Skateboard Park , John E.N. Howard Bandshell and the Howard Pedestrian Bridge. There were many other times when John would stop by city hall with a check for a project that he wished to remain anonymous.

In 2014, my wife, Shar, and I planned a surprise 95th birthday party for John. John was so thankful to see the large group attend and hear Dave Ratajik play “Happy Birthday” on a clarinet once owned by John. We left John with some wonderful memories of our own.

Please pause for a moment on Monday and celebrate John’s life. He loved St. Joseph, his family and the St. Joseph Municipal Band.

Frank L. Walsh

Former City Manager

St. Joseph