1937-2009: On May 22 at 11 o’clock, there will be a memorial service at Ronan’s Faith Lutheran Church (406 Fifth Ave. SW.) to celebrate the life of Bud Howard who died at his Seattle home in July 2009.
Bud was the third son and fourth child of Harold Howard and Jennie Marie Knudson Howard, who had left North Dakota in 1936 as a result of the Hoover farm policies and the dust bowl farming conditions. Like other such migrants, they moved to the Colorado beet fields where they worked until Bud was born in October of 1937 in Pierce, Colo.
As a young man, Bud’s father Harold had traveled to Polson to visit his grandfather who had owned and operated the White Café there. Harold remembered the cherry orchards and the work available with their constant upkeep. Harold and Jennie moved their family to Polson in the spring of 1938, and eventually settled on Finley Point where the fifth child, Wayne, was born in 1939.
The family prospered through hard work and the children rode the school bus to begin their schooling in the Polson School system until war broke out worldwide in 1942.
As a young man with five children, Harold was given the choice of defense work rather than being drafted into the military. In early 1943, the family moved lock, stock, and barrel to Seattle, where Jennie worked at Boeing and Harold worked at the ship yards. The children entered the B. F. Cooper school, downtown, until the family moved to what was then “the country” at Four Corners; they became part of the first generation of Latch Key Children, even though they lived at a place where no one locked doors or knew where the key might be.
During their years in Seattle, Harold and Jenny had purchased 40 acres east of Ronan, and it was there the family moved in 1945. The land was timberland that had to be partly cleared for building, for gardens, and for roads. For the first years, Bud and his siblings walked an unplowed mile and a half to catch a bus for school.
Bud entered the fourth grade in Ronan Elementary School. In the eighth grade he became interested in football and was among the first to try out his ninth grade year. He played some basketball but football was his overwhelming pleasure. He played three years with the Ronan Chiefs; he followed the Grizzlies, the Huskies and professional football until the end of his life.
Bud was unable to play for the Chiefs his senior year; Jennie became ill enough for the family to move to Missoula where she could be treated for the cancer from which she died a year later.
Bud joined the Air Force, where he earned his GED, during the Korean build-up and hostilities. However, he served entirely in the Western Hemisphere and was honorably discharged in 1958.
Bud returned to Missoula, then he attended a semester of school, before joining with his father to learn the skills of building. The two worked on Hungry Horse Dam, other projects in the Northwest and as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. He returned periodically to Missoula, where Bud met Carolyn Rathke in 1960.
After Carolyn’s graduation from the university, Bud and she were married in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 12, 1964.
During their 45 years of marriage, they lived in Portland; Spokane; Breckenbridge, Colo., and Denver; and Big Sky. They spent most of their lives in Seattle, where in 1974, they purchased a home in the Madison Park area where Bud spent his last days.
Their son Bradley was born in 1972, while they were in Breckenbridge; their daughter Brooke was born 1979, after they had settled in Seattle.
Bud was a master carpenter and enjoyed the challenges of building and remodeling homes and businesses. He owned contracting businesses in both Breckenbridge and Big Sky during the boom in the ski areas and condos.
In Breckenbridge, Bud and Carolyn owned a bar called the Village Idiot. Their customers were the locals in the early ’70s, before large companies took over. Their timing was perfect for accumulating adventures and stories of the people who had lived in the mountain for generations. Pizza and beer remained high on Bud’s list of favorite food.
Bud was a loving and caring father and grandfather. His children, Brad and Brooke; and his granddaughter Hannah, were the most important people in his life. One of his last wishes was to witness Brooke’s graduation from law school, which happened after he died but a week before this memorial.
A country kid to the core, Bud loved his two dogs; Scottish Terriers, one black and one wheaten, both named Piper but separated by 30 years. The wheaten snuggled with him during his last days and mourned his death as only a dog can.
Bud was preceded in death by both parents; his older brother James; his older sister Delores; and his younger brother Wayne.
He is survived by his wife Carolyn; his children Brooke and Brad; his granddaughter Hannah; his sister Marie of Eureka Springs, Ark.; niece and nephew Kathryn and Jim Beckstrom of Kalispell; and cousins Darrel Clark of East Ellis, Colo., Susan Bahny of Helena, and Anita Paul and Ann Croft, both of Ronan.
Bud always felt drawn to his Montana roots and would have liked to have lived out his days here. It is fitting that this memorial brings him back to Ronan, the years he shared with birth family, and the emotional ties that connected him to this valley throughout his life.
His memorial at the Faith Lutheran Church in Ronan will be followed by a coffee hour in the church basement. All are welcome to share a moment with Bud Howard and his family.