Quite the legacy my father-in-law left behind

Posted By on June 2, 2013

Some of us are fortunate to have wise men in our lives … someone that mentors and shapes us … someone who is an example for patterning our day to day lives. DadH_2011_8x10I was fortunate to have one of these wise men, that being my wife’s father, Dr. Frederick A. Howard – August 24, 1925 – May 31, 2013. He passed away in Jamestown, NY returning from his barn to the farmhouse that he loved after living a rich and fulfilling life. He left a legacy for his family that exemplified devotion to Christ, a patriotic love of country and wise council to all that knew him. His love for his family was obvious … and that love was often returned and equally as obvious.

I once thought that Brenda married me because I was like her father, but on reflection, that’s not quite true. Instead, I think the similarities were by choice and psychologically emulated on my part. He was a man worthy of learning and patterning ones life on … right down to the “dumb dad jokes.” I will never forget the regular and repeated (some would say they get old) jokes about spending and money or the wearing of old wore out clothes … although I’ve resisted the “holy” socks until just recently. We always had a good time together and am thankful for every minute. I always appreciated the fact that he treated me as a son (not second place or just as a son-in-law married to his daughter), but as a son. I’d like to think that honor didn’t come easy and was one that was earned over the years?


The gift of “legacy” from Dad Howard continued not only to me and my generation, but is very strong in the generation to follow. He was blessed with ten grandchildren and now many of them with spouses (and now great grandchildren). I know that he impacted them immensely, as is evident by their love and respect for him. It is natural for grandchildren to love their grandpa, but each grandchild has always demonstrated exceedingly high respect for him, something that continues even as their head to college and begin lives of their own.

My son is no exception to holding his grandfather in the highest esteem. To this day he continues to be amazed at how a boy who’s father died when he was 1 year old grew into the man he became. With only a mother and grandmother to raise him through the challenges of the depression, he still managed to grow up, head off to Europe at 18 and fight the evil of the Nazis during World War II. He then returned from war and went on to college, got married, then dental school and still continued to take care of his mom and raise a pretty impressive family of his own (I married one, so I’m bias). It is no wonder that generation is called the “greatest generation.”

Posted yesterday by my son Taylor to his Facebook page:


But the biggest legacy Fred Howard left behind (for all of us) was his unwavering love for Christ and desire to serve the Lord. Besides his focus on raising a God-loving family, he devoted much of his spare time working for his church, Bethel Baptist Church. His years of service were regularly recognized and his outreach stretch into helping other  with a place to stay and dental care. There were many serving as missionaries who I know appreciated his “touch” in from both the dental office to financial support. He was instrumental in founding a church camp and I know spent hours and hours working on the two different properties over the years; it was his love and passion … especially when he was younger.

Finally, I am appreciative of his attitude. There were times when one would think he had had enough. He could have been bitter as a child having to grow up without a father … he wasn’t and learn to love the Lord. He could have been angry when his son died at age 40 leaving behind three kids and a wife, but his faith grew stronger. He had medical issues … losing the ability to use his right hand and arm and was eventually unable to walk without a walker, but was instead jovial and appreciated still having his mind. What a way to live … and such a legacy to pass down.

We love you grandpa … we love you dad. You will be sorely missed, but I will “meet you in the morning, just inside the Eastern Gate.” (if you know him, you’ve heard it … so here’s The Eastern Gate recording.)

  The Eastern Gate (mp3) Lyrics by Isaiah G. Martin – 1905

I will meet you in the morning,
Just inside the Eastern Gate;
Then be ready, faithful pilgrim,
Lest with you it be too late.
I will meet you, I will meet you
Just inside the Eastern Gate over there;
I will meet you, I will meet you,
I will meet you in the morning over there.
If you hasten off to glory,
Linger near the Eastern Gate,
For I’m coming in the morning;
So you’ll not have long to wait.
Keep your lamps all trimmed and burning;
For the Bridegroom watch and wait;
He’ll be with us at the meeting
Just inside the Eastern Gate.
Oh, the joys of that glad meeting
With the saints who for us wait!
What a blessed, happy meeting
Just inside the Eastern Gate!


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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