(NEWS ARTICLE) Richard I. "Bones" Howe, who was a member of council, a baseball coach and umpire, a basketball referee, and a firefighter in the Henry County village where he was born, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital. He was 78.|
He made it through strokes and a heart attack. He walked and lifted weights daily. On Thursday morning, a blood vessel burst in his brain, his son Ric said. He was taken to Henry County Hospital and transferred to Toledo Hospital.
He retired in 1990 from the General Motors plant in Defiance, where he worked 37 years.
Mr. Howe was an iconic figure in his hometown, population 1,100-plus.
"If you were in the village and you had a conversation with anyone about the village or school, and you talked for very long, at some point Bones' name would have to come into the conversation," Mayor Wally Snyder said. "With Bones' passing, there's really nobody else who fills that void.
"He was born here and was part of this community. It was his life, and it was important for him to be part of things."
Mr. Howe was a member the last 15 years of Holgate village council. "He understood the workings of the small town of Holgate," his son said.
In a spirited contest eight years ago between Mr. Snyder and then-Mayor Jim Junge, Mr. Howe was a strong Snyder advocate.
"I'd like to think I would have won without his help, but he called on nearly every resident of the village," said Mr. Snyder, a funeral director and former owner of Snyder Funeral Home who is handling arrangements. "Bones was my right hand in getting me elected."
Mr. Howe was a member of the village volunteer fire department for 48 years.
This spring was Mr. Howe's 18th season as head boys baseball coach at Holgate High School -- where as a student he pitched and played infield. He was dedicated to Holgate High athletics of any stripe.
"He was a true purple and gold Holgate Tiger," his son said.
Mr. Howe was 17 when he first helped coach youth baseball. His efforts contributed to the start of Little League and Pony League baseball in the village, and he coached the teams.
"My father just loved the game of baseball and thought every kid should play," his son said.
Mr. Howe pitched on fast-pitched softball teams into his 40s. He was in his early 50s, when played for son Ric's slow-pitch team.
He was competitive, but "he was one of those guys who, if you lose, it's because the other team beat you," his son said.
He was a longtime high school baseball umpire, and he was umpire for baseball and softball teams of all varieties.
For more than 40 years, he traveled a wide swath of northwest Ohio as a high school basketball referee.
He was a squirrel and deer hunter. He planted at least 30 tomato plants a season in his garden -- he had tomatoes until December, and a local tavern used his tomatoes on its sandwiches -- and he also grew pumpkins, green beans, radishes, and lettuce.
For more than a decade, until the early 1990s, he delivered The Blade.
"My dad was all about community and Holgate," his son said.
He was born Dec. 7, 1932, to Edna and Alphonse Howe.
"He was a skinny lad. Everyone called him 'Bones,' and it stuck with him," his son said.
He was an Army veteran and served in Alaska during the Korean War.
Surviving are his wife, Lorraine, whom he married Aug. 2, 1958; sons, John Howe and Ric Howe; stepson, Bill Wink; daughter, Penny Mangas; sister, Shirley Crow, and six grandchildren.
The body will be at the Snyder Funeral Home, Holgate after 2 p.m. Sunday, with a Rosary service at 7 tonight and a "last alarm" service at 7 p.m. Monday in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Mary Church, Holgate, where he was a member. He will be buried in his baseball uniform.
The family suggests tributes to Holgate EMS, Holgate Athletic Boosters Club, or a charity of the donor's choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Sept. 12, 2011