James J. Howard, rancher, soldier, banker, gifted provocateur, passed away on May 4th, 2013, at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., at the age of 83. He was surrounded by his loving children and several grandchildren when he passed. Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Tyler Area Funeral Home. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial will be in the St. Wilford’s Catholic Cemetery in Woonsocket, S.D. The Tyler Area Funeral Home – Stephens Funeral Service is assisting the family with arrangements.
James J. Howard was born in 1929 on a ranch near Capa, S.D., the family eventually moved to Huron, S.D., where he graduated from Huron High School in 1947. Dad was drafted into the United States Army in 1950 and served until his honorable discharge in 1952, when he began serving in the U.S. Army Reserves until 1957. Dad graduated from Huron College with a business and finance degree and, while employed at the National Bank of South Dakota in Huron, he met and married his sweetheart, Catherine Ann Ball, of Woonsocket, S.D., in June of 1954. In 1956 Jim and Kay moved to Lemmon, S.D., where he took a position as a loan officer at the First National Bank, eventually rising to sr. vice president. Their first child, Michael James Howard, was born in November of that same year, followed by the births of David Joseph Howard in 1958, Carol Ann Howard (Renken) in 1959, James Jay Howard in 1961 and Scott Alan Howard in 1971. Each of his children and their spouses survive him. Dad graduated from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking in 1970, having attended summer school for several years in Madison, WI. He was a captain with the 211th Engineering Company, a National Guard unit based in Lemmon, for many years and was re-called to active duty in 1962 during the Berlin Air-Lift, moving his growing family to Ft. Lewis, Wash., for one year. Dad retired from the National Guard in 1970. In 1974, he accepted a promotion to become president of First State Bank in Ivanhoe. While there he managed significant growth and oversaw the construction of a brand new banking facility in the latter part of the 1970s. He left the First State Bank in 1982 and, along with mom and their youngest son, Scott, moved to Watford City, N.D., where he took a position as bank examiner for the State of North Dakota. In 1989, they retired to Brookings, S.D., where Dad remained active working part time for several local merchants. On March 22, 2000, Dad lost his beloved Catherine to cancer and remained in Brookings until February of 2007, when he moved to Tyler to be close to his daughter Carol and her family, becoming a resident of Danebod Village, a local retirement community, where he remained until his death.
Dad was a proud grandfather of Rachel, Jessica, Holly, Dan, Leah, Daniel, Ashley, Dylan, Dmitry, Evan, Bailey, Dominic and Matthew, and the proud great-grandfather of Jamon, Chase, Reese and Dylan. Some of dad’s closest relationships were with his in-laws, the Balls. He loved every one of you and always looked forward to seeing C.W and Esther, John and Marva, Joey and Kendall, Tom and Lynette, Susan and Jerry, Karen and Vince, Jim and Mary, Bill and Cheryl and Larry and Bev. Along with his parents and siblings who have passed, I know he greatly missed C.W. and Esther, Jerry, Karen, Marva, Vince and John. He also had a special fondness for his daughters-in-law, Barb, Oksana, Deno and Amy, and his son-in-law, Denny Renken, who was always there to help dad out in a pinch. Dad is also survived by his sisters, Vernita Nicholson of Apple Valley, Barbara Voas of Rapid City, S.D., and Rita Meyers of John Day, Ore.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Catherine Ann Howard (Ball), his parents, Guy and Esther Howard, his sister, Margaret Peterson, and his brother, Bernie Howard.
Dad was very active throughout his adult life in the several communities where he and his family lived. He was a member of the American Legion, Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club in Lemmon, where he was also an active member of Lemmon Country Club. One of the highlights of his amateur sporting career was in 1978, a year when he carded a hole-in-one at Wessington Springs, S.D., and rolled a 300 at the Ivanhoe Bowling Alley. In Ivanhoe Dad kept busy at the bank and also served on the Ivanhoe Housing Committee and was a successful advocate for many improvements in town.
Dad had a unique perspective on life and, as those of you who were lucky enough to know him learned, was quite passionate on a wide range of topics, often taking the position that it wasn’t his fault if you were wrong. Dad was a lousy golfer, a terrible dancer, and a helluva husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He wasn’t a hunter, but he shot one of the biggest mule-deer bucks I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t outwardly daring but served our country with skill, distinction and enormous pride – he jumped out of airplanes for God’s sake. Some of my earliest memories have him decked out in a plain white T-shirt, some variation of a pair of chinos, drawing on a Chesterfield with a bottle of High-Life in his hand. Yeah, he used to be a man’s man.
He didn’t miss many of his children’s football, basketball and baseball games and, if my guess is correct, is a proud member of the South Dakota Referees Association enemies’ list, having witnessed and physically contorted himself, from the bleachers, to make his opinion heard on tens-of-thousands of ignominious officiating calls – especially when one of his sons had the ball. He coined new usages for the word “simp” and, right or wrong he never deviated from his convictions. If he wanted your opinion, he’d give it to you.
As rankings go, he was probably around the six-hundred-seventy-one millionth most interesting man in the world, but that’s a matter of perspective and context. He was a master story-teller, complete with names and dates from the 1940s ’till the day he left us. When he spoke about the special people who crossed his trail, he always started the story with “my good friend, Doc,” or “my great friend, Mel.” If you’re reading this you know if you were his friend because you recall his manner as magnanimous when he was with you and, when he wasn’t with you, he was proud to tell others you were his friend. I hope you are proud to have been his friend.
Godspeed, Dad. Tell mom and everyone else hi from us. We’re going to miss you.