Howard Elroy Watkins
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Howard Elroy

October 3, 1914 -
April 6, 2017

Colonel Howard E. Watkins, USAF (102), of Eugene (formerly Coos Bay) died in his sleep as a result of complications from a fall on March 25, 2017. He had been recovering well from surgery to repair his hip injury and, although he was 102, his death was unexpected and a blow to his family. Howard lived honorably and fully, and was generous in love, which is evidenced by the many who gladly called him friend, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.

Howard was born in Venango, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children born to Emory and Janie (Broughton) Watkins. He graduated from Kearney State Teachers College (now University of Nebraska Kearney) in 1938. He met his wife, Marguerite Neustrom, at KSTC and they were married December 28, 1939. Marguerite passed away in 1999 shortly before their 60th anniversary. In 2016 Howard married Shirley Sanders of Coos Bay, who tragically passed away six weeks later shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

During Howard's Air Force career of 32 years, he and Marguerite had four children, Stephen E. of Veneta, OR, Christine W. Parker of North, VA, H. Eric of Eugene, OR, and Karen D. of Williamsburg, VA. They lived in eleven states, countries and territories, and set up 31 households. After he retired from the Air Force in 1965, he received his Masters in Education from the University of Nebraska. Their final move was to Coos Bay, Oregon in 1968. Howard taught science for six years at Coquille Junior High School. He moved to Eugene in January.

Howard was active in the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition. He and Marguerite were instrumental in defending the Oregon Beach Law, among other accomplishments. He was an active member at Harmony United Methodist Church in Coos Bay for 48 years, especially enjoying the men's Bible study. He was always on the cutting edge of computer technology and was using an iPhone 6 up until his accident. He loved to travel to visit extended family, and he completed many cross-country trips with his family, the most recent in 2016.

Howard is survived by his four children, two step-children: Cathy Burton and Joe Sanders; four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a sister, Dolores Sexson of Grant, NE. He was predeceased by both wives, three brothers, two sisters, and a daughter-in-law, Brunhilde.

Celebration of Life will be held at Harmony United Methodist Church, Coos Bay, OR on April 15, 2017 at 3:00. Burial will be at Nebraska's Fort McPherson National Cemetery this summer. Memorial contributions can be made to Harmony United Methodist Church, or Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition. We invite you to enjoy a tribute video produced for his 100th birthday at (search "Howard Watkins glimpses").

Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Apr. 13, 2017.
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