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James Howard Obituary
James L. Howard 1942 - 2011Surrounded by friends and family, James Leonard Howard quietly slipped from his earthly home on January 19, 2011, to travel with Jesus to his Heavenly home with God. James was born November 7, 1942, in Sturgis, KY, the fourth child of Lawrence and Jettie Howard. He grew up in a devoutly Christian home and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior when he was 12 in the New Salem Baptist Church in Sturgis. He later attended Carr's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, where his father was Pastor and loved hearing his mother sing. James loved school. He rode a bus to an all-Black school 11 miles away in Morganfield, KY because Sturgis had no Black school. In 1956, at age 13, James led other students in attempting to integrate the all-white Sturgis high school. The campaign to desegregate the school was unsuccessful, but a judicial order led to school integration a year later, and James was able to graduate from Sturgis High School in 1960. James continued his education throughout life, attending military schools, colleges and several universities, including The National Judicial College in Reno, NV, and Oklahoma State University. James joined the U.S. Air Force after high school. He was stationed around the world during the twenty years of his service. His assignments included security work in Germany, Japan, and northeast Thailand during the Vietnam Era. After retiring from the military, James was employed by the state of Oklahoma and served as Assistant Administrator of the Office of Personnel Management and later as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission. Throughout his life, James was a tireless advocate for equal rights for all people. He broke through many barriers and paved the way for others. He valued diversity and was an inspiration and role model for many people. He earned the respect of state officials and employee advocates. A natural leader, James had a joy of life, a love of laughter, and a tender heart. He always loved to travel and experience the world. He developed a passion for researching family history and delighted in tracing his roots. He stayed in frequent contact with many beloved relatives — especially the elderly. In recent years he was reunited with many of his Air Force comrades after having lost touch for fifty years. These men were truly brothers, bound together forever by their shared experiences. James had a deep feeling for children — to see them warmly dressed, well fed and well educated. He has encouraged his nieces and nephews to pursue academic excellence and self-sufficient, healthy, Christian lifestyles. James loved the outdoors, whether gardening or hunting. During his final months, one of his greatest pleasures was spending time in the woods, enjoying the natural beauty of God's creation, looking for game and preparing his deer stands. Most of all James loved to study God's Word and discuss the Bible. He was a man of prayer and deep faith -- a righteous man who loved God and ALL people. He leaves to mourn his passing his wife, Martha, of the home; his mother, Jettie C. Howard, Sturgis, KY; two brothers: Lawrence Howard (Mary Louise), Montgomery, AL; and Warren Howard, Sturgis, KY; three sisters: Martha Williams, Sturgis, KY; Carolyn Martin (L.C.), Fort Wayne, IN; and Janice Johnson (William), Sturgis, KY. He also leaves countless beloved aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins, Air Force brothers, and dear friends throughout the world. He was preceded in death by his father and his oldest brother, Cecil. Services will be 11 AM, Tuesday, January 25, at Word Aflame Ministries, 9029 E. Reno, Midwest City, Oklahoma. Visitation will be available on Sunday, January 23, and Monday, January 24, from 8 AM to 8 PM, at Barnes Friederich Funeral Home, 1820 South Douglas, Midwest City. On Monday evening, the family will receive visitors at the funeral home from 6 PM to 8 PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the , the Salvation Army, or the Regional Food Bank.

Published in The Oklahoman on Jan. 23, 2011
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