Merle Howes (1924 - 2018)

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AMHERST – Merle L. Howes, age 93, died on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.  

Dr. Howes was born on August 14, 1924 in Laytonsville, Maryland to Rose and George Howes.  Dr. Howes graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 1942.  Soon after graduation, he volunteered to serve in the United States Army joining the armed forces during World War II.                                                           

 During his service in World War II, Dr. Howes worked in the United States Army Chemical Warfare Service.  His unit was assigned to a chemical munitions depot in The Forest of Dean in England.  At the end of the war, Dr. Howes served briefly in the Army of Occupation in Germany.  He was discharged from United States Army in 1945.                                                        

 After returning to the United States, Dr. Howes attended Kansas State University.  He graduated in 1950 with a degree in agriculture education.  He then returned to his home state of Maryland to work at the University of Maryland's Extension Service as a county agent.   While working at the University of Maryland, Dr. Howes completed his Master's degree in education in 1952.       

 In 1956, Dr. Howes took a position at the University of Massachusetts as Assistant Director of the Cooperative Extension Service and Director of the State 4-H Program.  Under his leadership the 4-H programs increased in membership and projects that were adapted to both urban and rural youth.  He gave particular attention to expanding the role of the Massachusetts  4-H Foundation in program financing and the recognition of 4-H members and volunteer leaders.  He served on many regional and national 4-H program development committees and was a Trustee of the National 4-H Foundation in Washington, D.C.                                                          

In the early 1960s, Dr. Howes took time away from his Cooperative Extension job to attend the University of Wisconsin.  He was awarded a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Life Sciences from this institution in 1963.                                                                                           

After 24 years of working in the Cooperative Extension Service, Dr. Howes became a professor of public administration and the Acting Head of the Department of Consumer Studies at the University of Massachusetts.  He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1987.                  

However, even after his retirement, Dr. Howes continued his involvement and passion about the importance of the extension service.  He believed that by helping a farmer, the extension service was helping an entire family.  By working with youth on a 4-H project, the extension service was creating a confident member of a future generation.                                       

Soon after his retirement, Dr. Howes engaged in thorough research about the system of land-grant colleges and universities in the United States.  He was strong in his belief that the land-grant institutions, like the University of Massachusetts, needed to serve the public interest because public wealth created them through the Morrill Land Grant Act.                                           

Dr. Howes also served the Town of Amherst.  He was elected to the Board of Selectmen from 1965 – 1975. In the 1980s, he co-chaired the renovation project for the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School and chaired the Site Selection Committee for the Amherst Town Police Station.                                                                                       

As dedicated as Dr. Howes was to his academic and civic work, he was also devoted to his family and home.  Dr. Howes married Billie M. Clow on June 30, 1951.  They moved to Amherst in 1956 with the promise to each other that they would not stay long in the cold region of New England.  In 1963, they purchased a dilapidated house built in 1773 and renovated it into a beautiful home that welcomed friends warmly and kept their family together and secure.  Dr. Howes and his wife of 66 years also traveled extensively around the United States and abroad.  He also instilled a deep love of the Red Sox into his entire family.                                                   

Dr. Howes was very involved in his church community at the South Congregational Church.  He was a member of the Board of Trustees and enjoyed his time with the Men's Breakfast Club.                                                                                                                           

Dr. Howes' wife, Billie, predeceased him in February of this year.  He is survived by his three children:  Ray Howes of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, LaVerna Howes Albury of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and Pamela Howes of Amherst.  He is also survived by his granddaughter, Jennifer Marquez Albury (Antonio Marquez) of Amherst, as well as his great-granddaughter, Juliet.                                                                                              

Calling hours at the Douglass Funeral Services in Amherst will be Thursday, May 24, from 3-5 p.m.  The funeral service will be held at the South Congregational Church in Amherst at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 26.  The interment will be private.                                                

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Massachusetts 4-H Foundation, 1671 Worcester Road, Suite #403, Framingham, MA 01701.

Memorial register at
Funeral Home
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 253-3407
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 17, 2018
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