Charles Alfred Howe, a theologian, advocate, scholar, and chemist, died peacefully on August 10, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was born on May 4, 1922 to Raymond Miller Howe and Ethel Louise Williams in Utica, NY. He grew up in Utica and Southern Pines, NC and spent summers in West Eaton, NY where his family still maintains a summer home.
His early professional life was devoted to organic chemistry. He received an AB from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Phi Beta Kappa) and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served in the Pacific Theater at the end of WWII. He then returned to Chapel Hill where he was awarded an MA and PhD in chemistry. After graduation, he worked as a bench scientist for Merck & Co., where he developed and held several patents for the synthesis of riboflavin. Always interested in teaching, he left Merck after five years to become a faculty member at Clarkson College in Potsdam, NY where he authored a number of articles with his wife, Ann Clark Howe, whom he had met in graduate school. (Upon moving to Potsdam, near the Canadian border, Ann, a lifelong Southerner, remarked to Charles that she thought he was “moving the family to the tundra.”) The “tundra” proved to be a happy place, and Charles and his family became active members of the Universalist Church in nearby Canton, NY. His involvement with the church grew to the point where he decided to enter the ministry, and in 1964 the family moved to Chicago where Charles enrolled at the Meadville-Lombard Theological Seminary. He was granted a B.Div. in 1966 and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1996.
Charles was inducted into the ministry in 1966 and was called to the First Unitarian Church of Austin, TX (1966-1970) and then the First Universalist Church of Syracuse, NY (1970-1983). He was subsequently the interim minister for three churches and the settled minister in Wilmington and Kinston, NC until his retirement in 1989. He was a prolific writer, keeping a diary since he was 16, writing family memoirs, publishing numerous books through Skinner House, and, in later years, contributing to the Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography. He was a lifelong music enthusiast and guitarist. He was also an avid athlete - lettering in track at Chapel Hill and spearheading many church softball teams - and a sports fan, following with particular interest the fortunes of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tar Heels.
Charles moved to Raleigh in 1995 where he advocated for the end of the death penalty and remained, as he had been throughout his life, an untiring advocate for social justice, whether through spirited family conversations, community service, or Letters to the Editor. Until soon before his death, he was active in People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and a minister to the sick.
Charles is survived by his wife, Ann Clark Howe; children, Judith Louise Howe (Robert Harangozo), Marjorie Ann Howe Chenery (Peter Chenery), David Darrow Howe; grandchildren, Patricia Elizabeth Chenery, Sarah Watters Howe, Nora Isabel Howe, and Caroline Howe Harangozo, as well as several nieces and nephews. Charles was predeceased by his sister Katherine Louise Howe Roberts and brother Raymond Lawrence Howe.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Charles Howe will be held on Sunday, August 15th at 2 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, NC. Charles had expressed his wish that no flowers be sent. Donations in his name may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Arrangements by the Cremation Society of the Carolinas, www.cremationsocietync.com