Frank Robert Howard

6 entries
  • "My most sincere condolences to Danielle, Anthony and..."
    - Wilbur Spence
  • "Dear Danielle and Tony. We are deeply sorry for your loss. ..."
  • "Goodbye Frank: thanks for your decades of work on behalf of..."
    - Terry Lawrence
  • "I knew the public Frank long before I knew the private man..."
    - Moira Dann
  • "Frank was a compassionate, caring man who made a huge..."
    - Svend Robinson
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HOWARD, Frank Robert Frank Howard passed away unexpectedly but peacefully of complications from pneumonia March 15, 2011. He would have been 86 in April. Possessed of a perennially endearing manner, it's a fair estimate he may now be raising a glass with higher authorities, so we trust he won't mind us saying a few things about what a model of achievement and devotion to the general welfare of so many Canadians, including family and friends, his life was. Things began inauspiciously for Frank, having been placed in a series of foster homes and orphanages throughout his youth. Frank made a few mistakes too. He was imprisoned for two years when he was 18, which he recounts in his autobiography, From Prison to Parliament. His experience in prison led to his rejection of the pernicious determinism that taught him to think he was the inescapable victim of_in his words_ inherited personality disorders" and social circumstance. He thereafter lived his life by the credo of taking responsibility for his actions and exercising his free will both reasonably and dutifully. This he did. Making the most of early opportunities Frank worked in mines, became a logger, organized locals of the International Woodworkers of America, and became President of the Loggers' Local of the IWA at age 25. Having caught the eye of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation, he ran as a CCF MLA in Skeena, BC in 1952. He lost that election but won a seat a year later. In 1956 he ran for the CCF as a federal MP for Skeena and won. He would hold that seat as a CCF and NDP MP until 1974, the longest tenure of anyone who has held the seat since its establishment in 1914. After working as a consultant on Aboriginal affairs for Dave Barrett's NDP government in BC during the mid-70s and a stint as a stock broker, Frank re-entered politics as a provincial NDP candidate in Skeena in 1979 and won. He represented Skeena as an MLA until 1986, when he retired from politics. Frank was instrumental in securing Aboriginal people who lived on reserves the right to vote in federal elections, was the co-architect of a three-year filibuster in the House of Commons that produced fundamental reforms to Canada's divorce laws, and was involved in numerous reforms to Canada's prisons. One of the keys to his longevity as an elected office holder was the care he put into listening to the concerns of his constituents and doing what he could on their behalf. In his book he said, I'm proud of having been able to move from breaking laws to making them." This was probably his most enduring achievement. In addition to his political life, his personal life too was full to the brim. He was predeceased by his three wives, Edith, Julie, and most recently Joane Humphrey (aka J.J. McColl), as well as by his son Robert Howard. He is survived by his step-children, Danielle and Anthony Peacock, and his numerous other family and friends, who will dearly miss his humour and wit, generosity and relentless persistence through thick and thin to live life as fully and honourably as he could. Family and friends wish to thank the Peace Arch Hospital Emergency and Intensive Care Unit for their warm, compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Salvation Army or to the charity of donor's choice. A celebration of Frank's life will be held on Thursday, June 23, 2011 at The Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, (15th Ave @ Main), Vancouver, B.C. from 6-9 pm. 621349
Published in The Times Colonist on Mar. 26, 2011
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