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John Hudson Howland

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WEST WINDSOR -- John Hudson Howland, 88, passed away Friday evening, Dec. 19, 2003 at his home.

He was born Nov. 14, 1915 in Windsor, the son of Judge Glenn C. and Flora (Hudson) Howland.

He attended Windsor schools, graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1935 and from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in 1939.

He married Mary Elaine Kiernan in 1941 and they settled in West Windsor, where they made their home for more than half a century and raised their two daughters and three sons.

He served as executive officer of an LSM in the Pacific Theater during World War II, having enlisted as an ensign in 1943. He resigned from the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1951 as a lieutenant j.g.

Following the war, Mr. Howland founded and operated several businesses in Windsor, including a mail-order specialty food company, the Howland Insurance Agency and Windsor Machine Products, a machine tool shop he operated for 13 years.

In 1956, he purchased the fledgling ski tow on Ascutney Mountain for $2,000 and, working with his boyhood friend Robert Ely, founded and developed Mt. Ascutney Ski Area, which he managed until 1965. Under their direction, Ascutney was the first ski area in Vermont to install snowmaking equipment, much of which was manufactured at Windsor Machine Products.

From 1966 to 1984, Mr. Howland served as executive secretary of the Vermont Association of Insurance Agents and edited its monthly magazine, The Green Mountain Agent. During those years, he also invested in real estate, renovating several commercial buildings in downtown Windsor.

Mr. Howland served as chairman of the District 9 Environmental Commission and, after redistricting, as a member of the District 2 Environmental Commission.

He was elected five times to represent Windsor County in the Vermont Senate, where he served from 1975 to 1985. While in the Senate, he was a member of the Health and Welfare Committee and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Sen. Howland was architect of a comprehensive reform of medical malpractice laws that ended the state’s medical insurance crisis of the mid-1970s.

He was an early outspoken critic of Vermont’s investment in New Hampshire nuclear power, accurately predicting the eventual bankruptcy of Public Service Company of New Hampshire. Criticism of nuclear power on economic grounds was rare among legislators of the day, and was particularly startling coming from a Republican businessman-legislator.

Sen. Howland served on the Vermont state Nuclear Advisory Panel, the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention and on the board of Vermont Education Television.

He had a lifelong interest in the early industrial history of Windsor County and a particular interest in early Windsor guns. He was a founder of the American Precision Museum in Windsor, a member of the Vermont Historical Society and belonged to the historical societies of Windsor, West Windsor and Reading. IN his youth, he was an avid trader in stamps and coins, and he was a collector of early Windsor imprints throughout his life.

Mr. Howland served as a trustee of the Caverly Child Health Center, a director of the Vermont Association for Crippled, and a member of the governor’s committee on employment of the handicapped. As president of Windsor Machine Products, he received an award of merit in 1954 from President Eisenhower’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, and was recognized the same year by the American Legion for his hiring of disabled veterans. He held the position of public relations officer at the Vermont Department of the American Legion.

Mr. Howland served as a school director in West Windsor and was town agent for many years. He was the author of “Ventures and Adventures: The memoirs of a Vermont Businessman,” published in 1999 by Vermont Historical Narratives.

He was a founder of Historic Windsor, Inc. and the Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce, an active Rotarian, serving as Rotary president in 1973, a member of the Vermont Farm Bureau, a life member of American Legion Post 25. He served the Boy Scouts of America as district finance chairman of the Calvin Coolidge Council. He was chairman of the Pastoral Council, St. Francis of Assisi Church and was a member of the Burlington Diocesan Ecumenical Commission.

Surviving family; members include his wife of West Windsor, his children and spouses: Mary Ann McFaun of Barre Town and her husband Francis M. McFaun; John Howland Jr. of Burlington and his wife Kathleen M. Balutansky; William G. Howland of Isle La Motte and his wife Betsy Howland; Margaret M. Howland of Claremont, N.H. and her husband Kenneth Mastro; and Glenn C. Howland of Middlesex and his wife Anne Howland. Siblings: James O. Howland of Hartland and Dorothy Fenoff of Jacksonville, Fla. Grandchildren: Katherine McFaun Williams, Bennet McFaun, Mary Alice McFaun, Charles Stevenson Howland, Emily Kiernan Howland, Alison Jane Howland and Mariah Donnis Howland, and a step-granddaughter Vanessa Joan Fatton.

Great-grandchildren: Connor Howland Williams, Meaghan Marie Williams, Collin Francis McFaun and Riley Katherine McFaun; several nieces and nephews. One great-grandchild, Peyton Elizabeth McFaun predeceased him.

Friends may call at the Knight Funeral Home in Windsor on Monday, Dec. 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 11 a.m. at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Windsor. The Rev. Paul N. Belhumeur, M.S., will be the celebrant. Burial will be at a later date in the Brownsville Cemetery in West Windsor.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the St. Francis of Assisi Church, P.O. Box 46, Windsor, VT 05089.
Published in Bennington Banner on Dec. 22, 2003
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