Of Doylestown, born Nov. 25, 1926, Jacksonville Florida; died Jan 4, 2011, Doylestown Obituary:
Former state Sen. Edward Howard, who represented the 10th District for 16 years, died this week. He was 84. For his only son, the breadth of former state Sen. Edward Howard's life is still unfolding. When Judd Howard was a child and his family hosted 64 Cuban refugees for Christmas, he figured all families did that. It dawned on him as an adult that his father's face-to-face meetings with three sitting presidents - a far cry from humble beginnings in Minnesota - were actually quite remarkable. Edward Howard, who represented the 10th state Senate District in Bucks County for 16 years, died Tuesday at his son's home in Doylestown. He was 84. Family and friends said this week that Howard's legacy is the way he encouraged people to get interested and involved in the political process. Howard made a point of including informal discussions and coffee klatches into his debate schedule, said Judd, who worked on his father's campaigns. "That's where I think you convince people that the political process does work, and does include me, when someone shows up at your door or you go next door to have coffee and listen to someone speak with 15 of your friends," he said. "I think that that legacy - making the political process important to individuals and helping them understand that there is always access, you can always come back and be as involved as you want - you always need somebody to stand up and remind you of that." Howard was elected to the state Senate in 1970, where he represented the 10th District for four terms before leaving office in 1986. He lost a contentious 1988 bid for the 8th Congressional District seat to Peter Kostmayer. Jim Greenwood, a longtime friend of Howard's who later won Kostmayer's Congressional seat, described the late state senator as a moderate, centrist Republican, a "hard-core fiscal conservative" whose belief in individual rights led to his involvement with the National Abortion Rights Action League. A 1978 Intelligencer article about Howard's re-election to the state Senate said his 5-3 margin of victory "increased his luster as the brightest star in Bucks County's Republican galaxy." Word of his luster seemed to have reached Washington, D.C. Among Howard's favorite cocktail party stories: the time his luggage got lost after he flew on Air Force One with then-President Ronald Reagan, and the time Barbara Bush sat on his lap when they were crammed into a crowded limousine. In 1959, Howard and his family moved to Bucks County to run the National Fiberstok Corp., an office supply manufacturer in Philadelphia, a company he eventually bought, then ran until 1986. He was the Bucks County Community College Authority's first chairman, and played a key role in the school's construction, according to a biography dated September 1979. He was also a Doylestown Presbyterian Church elder and chairman of the Pennsylvania Cuban Resettlement Committee, appointed by the governor in the early 1960s to help find Pennsylvania homes for more than 3,000 Cubans looking to resettle in the United States. Judd Howard recalls a time during his childhood when his Doylestown home was filled with the sounds of people speaking Spanish, and he got to try black beans and rice for the first time. Greenwood met Howard in 1976 while managing another local legislator's campaign. The state senator was larger than life, a "rebellious pillar of reform" who had been elected on a platform of getting the Legislature away from back room dealings, Greenwood said. When considering a run for the state House, Howard assured Greenwood, then a social worker, that it was possible to hold state office and maintain one's integrity. "He became very much a mentor for me," Greenwood said. While Howard was a state senator and Greenwood was a state representative, Howard, a pilot, would fly Greenwood home with him to Bucks County. Before that, one of Greenwood's concerns about holding state office was sustaining a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend - the woman who is now his wife. When Rick Breitenfeld was named president of WHYY in 1984, he took a trip to Harrisburg to see about state funding. Howard, his last meeting of the day, was a standout with all of his Minnesotan openness, Breitenfeld said. A long friendship ensued. He was glamorous, he was good-looking, he was 6-foot-6 +, he was politically connected and powerful, and women thought he was sexy, and he loved it all. He just drank it up. He was a marvelous politician," Breitenfeld said. Howard is survived by daughters Kim, Dana and Tracey, son Judd, nine grandchildren, and his sister. Howard's wife, Barbara, died in 1986; daughter Cory died in 2004.