Edwards Pardue, 77, died on April 4, 2012, doing what he loved most, and at which he was among the world's most accomplished: flying the F8F Bearcat. Howard leaves behind his loving wife Carolyn, sister Emily Tolle, brother Bill Pardue, five children, twelve grandchildren, two great grandchildren and a legion of friends and admirers across the country and around the world.|
Howard was born February 3, 1935 in Breckenridge, Texas, the son of William and Virginia Pardue. After what might be described as an "exciting" childhood, Howard graduated in 1952 from Breckenridge High School and enrolled in Texas Tech University. After a year at Tech he joined the United States Marine Corps where he was selected for flight training. Upon receiving his wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station, he became a fighter pilot, flew most of the Marines' high performance aircraft of that time including the FJ4, F9F, F8U, F4D and A4, and eventually became an instructor. The Marines were an important part of Howard's life and he served twelve years on active and reserve duty, retiring as a major.
Howard met his wife Carolyn Cunill in 1984. After an extended courtship they married and for 28 years were a perfect partnership: Howard's quiet confidence and gruff demeanor; Carolyn's bright smile and outgoing nature. A pilot in her own right, Carolyn shared Howard's passion for flying and his affection for the people in the aviation community. Together they traveled the world, sometimes to participate in airshows, sometimes just for the pleasure of traveling and experiencing new places. They built their dream house in Houston and Howard divided time between his home with Carolyn in Houston and his business interests in Breckenridge.
Howard was widely recognized as one of the best warbird pilots around. He could, and did, fly almost every conceivable aircraft of that type. His flying experiences were many and varied. He was in great demand in airshows around the world because of the beautiful, precise routines he flew in his F4F Wildcat and the F8F Bearcat. He was selected by the Navy to participate in Legacy Flights, in which front line Navy fighters are paired in flight with historic aircraft. He raced in the Reno National Air Races for 29 years, winning trophies in the Unlimited Category numerous times. He was a crowd favorite at Reno where the race announcer would introduce his plane with the words: "Everyone loves Howard Pardue!" He had numerous aviation adventures, including flying a B-25 from the United States to Tahiti and bringing a number of World War II aircraft from Central and South America back to the United States.
His biggest impact on aviation, however, is the huge number of pilots whom Howard mentored or inspired. A man of few words, Howard provided an example of skill, dedication and determination that other pilots wanted to emulate. Whether active military, test pilots, astronauts, warbird or private pilots, every pilot wanted to know Howard Pardue and be counted among his friends. Those friends all know that their world was better for having known Howard and that their world has been diminished by his loss.
Howard is survived by his wife Carolyn; his sister Emily Tolle, his brother Bill Pardue and wife Jean; his children Pamela Midkiff, Allison Jones, Leigh Murray, Paige Townson and husband Rickey Townson, and Jeffrey Pardue; grandchildren Douglas Midkiff and his wife Stephanie, Christopher and Taylor Midkiff, Jordan McCann, Chad Townson and his wife Lara, Kristen Townson, Drew and Hannah Murray, Cole, Lauren and Wyatt Pardue; and great-grandchildren Sayler and Maylea Townson. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Virginia Pardue and by his daughter Kimberly Brooke.
Howard loved animals. His friends remember his devotion to his Bull Terrier, Captain, and his Jack Russells, Zelda, Chloe and Mary.
A memorial service for Howard will be held at 2:00 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012 at First Christian Church, 101 E. William St., in Breckenridge, Texas, with a reception at the Breckenridge Aviation Museum, Stephens County Airport, immediately following the service until 6:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a remembrance of Howard to the Wounded Warriors Project; Breckenridge Meals on Wheels; Dr. Goodall's House, a safe house for children; Citizens for Animal Protection or a
Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 8, 2012