Cleveland Howard ’91 was the kind of person who still makes people’s eyes light up when you mention his name. That’s not a bad legacy to leave to the world, when you think about it.
But warming up the world isn’t Howie’s only legacy.
A number of Howie’s classmates, including James Tedford ’91, Mike Densmore ’91, Todd Baker ’91 and Doug Moon ’91, have established the Cleveland “Howie” Howard III ’91 Memorial Scholarship Fund to recognize their classmate, who died in November 2014. They admit that defining a single area of support was challenging. “Howie was loved by so many different kinds of people, it was hard to narrow down our focus,” says Moon.
“He was someone blessed with a magnetic personality who could connect with anybody.”
Howie had many deep Durham roots. His father was a popular and long-standing music professor at UNH. He attended Oyster River schools as well as Kimball Union Academy, where he lettered in track, ice hockey and soccer. At UNH, he walked on to the soccer and became a team captain. Moon says “he was proud of being an African American in a community with very few like him. And I don’t think he was prouder of anything than he was of being a fraternity brother at Lambda Chi.”
Baker agrees and bumps the point up a notch. “It’s not a sports scholarship,” insists the New Castle, N.H., resident. “We know and love and recognize a man who was so passionate about life. We met at Freshman Camp and he was so enthusiastic about the activities I thought he was a counselor! Of course, he ended up being a counselor. Everyone gravitated around him. During parties, he would bust a move on the floor, all six-foot two of him.
“He was too big a person on campus for us not to create a legacy,” adds Densmore.
Howie’s older sister, Lyn, describes her brother as the pied piper. “He was someone blessed with a magnetic personality who could connect with anybody. Our dad used to joke that even after teaching in Durham for years, he was still known as ‘Howie’s dad.’”
Lyn went off to Princeton and a career at IBM before returning to live in the house she and Howie grew up in, not far from the Jackson’s Landing ice rink where Howie skated and worked. Howie himself left Durham after graduating from UNH, heading off to Washington D.C. with his school chums to “try to figure life out and launch our careers,” Moon says.
Living on hotdogs and ramen and having the time of their lives, they launched them. Howie’s career began at Adidas, where, to no one’s surprise, he quickly established himself as a master salesman, a profession he continued with Timberland and ASICS. His classmates and scholarship fund founders went on to various careers: Tedford owns a social media company, Densmore is a top advertising executive, Moon is a banker for JP Morgan, and Baker has a real estate investment company.
Howie eventually settled in the greater Rockville-Gaithersburg, Maryland, area. There, he started a family that would come to include two daughters, Zene Ethyl and Zoe Thi. Like their father, the girls loved sports. They played soccer and ice hockey, earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do, and proudly wore their Patriots or Bruins jerseys while watching games with their father.
He coached their youth soccer programs, volunteered at their elementary school, participated in numerous charity bike rides and road races and volunteered for community service events. He loved working with children and he was a strong advocate of teamwork and good sportsmanship. In the 2013-2014 season, the Maryland Youth Hockey Association recognized him as “Coach of the Year.”
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During these years, the college friends stayed in touch, attending one another’s weddings, big birthdays and other milestones. Friends through thick and thin, and Howie always the heart and soul. In 2009, Howie became ill with brain cancer. He underwent treatment and enjoyed several good years before the tumor started to grow again. “That’s when my wife and I stayed with him to help out,” Lyn says. “He had this steady stream of visitors reaching all the way back to Durham. He loved seeing every one of them.”
Whether he was serving as rush chairman at Lambda Chi Alpha or on the executive committee of Freshman Camp or holding the locker room together after a tough loss, Howie always seemed to be welcoming somebody into his world. Making them feel as though they belonged right there, right then. Now, through the endowment established in his name by those whose lives he transformed with his gifts of friendship, Howie’s legacy will be to welcome a new student to UNH every year.
Explains Baker, “We are lifelong friends and we want others to share similar experiences at UNH. Hopefully, the Howard Scholarship will inspire students to live extraordinary lives.”
Yes, the first Howard scholar will compete in Division 1 soccer or hockey, but with the help of Howie’s example to guide them, they’ll accomplish much more, as well.