Jerry Kenneth Howard, age 86, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend passed to the other side on July 30, 2019. Jerry died of natural causes at his home with his wife Karen at his side. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Tommy, who passed away at age 29 from a brain tumor.
Jerry was born in Boulder City, Nevada, October 25, 1932 to Jack and Doris Howard. His father was part of the team that completed Boulder Dam. They moved to Shasta, California to complete the dam there. When Jerry was 7, the family moved to Caldwell, where he completed his education and one year at the College of Idaho. He resided in Caldwell for many years, then on to Boise for the rest of his life.
A talented trumpet player, Jerry was director of the Caldwell High pep band his senior year and graduated in 1950. The opportunity to combine his love of country and his musical skill came at 18 when his mother and father signed a permission slip for him to join the army. He went directly into the Idaho National Guard 25th Army Band as it was called into active duty during the Korean Conflict. While stationed near Newark, New Jersey he studied with several celebrated musicians including John Eagan, principal trumpet at Radio City Music Hall. Upon release from active duty, Jerry returned to College of Idaho as a music major and continued his service in the 25th Army Band.
In 1955 he married Charlotte Wagner, a 21-year union that brought five children: Michael, Dee, Pam, Cyndi and Andrea. His work and service in the military continued as he raised his family. He spent time in the US Army Reserve Green Beret Special Forces unit and graduated from Airborne school as a combat parachutist. He went back to the 25th Army Band assignment after the unit disbanded. He served as enlisted Band Leader and eventually administrative supply technician. Jerry’s command presence and eye for detail eventually led to a position as general manager and administrator of “300 Main” in Boise, an exclusive women’s club. He wouldn’t be away from music long, though – as he was soon tabbed for a life-long dream position: as Commanding Officer and Bandleader of the 25th Army Band. He remained in the position from 1979 until 1984 when he resigned to take a full-time position as the Enlisted Personnel Manager for the Idaho National Guard Headquarters at Gowen Field. He held this position until retirement in 1992, thus completing more than 42 years of military service. Of the many awards and decorations he received for exemplary performance, the one he was most proud of (other than his parachute wings) was The Meritorious Service Medal – the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a National Guard member.
Jerry married his beloved wife Karen in 1981 and joined her as a member of the Latter-Day Saint Church. Their union was sealed for eternity a few years later. This made him a bonus dad to Karen’s four children: Rae Ann, Sandra, Robert and Tracey. Their combined tribe of 9 children produced 30 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. They also were influential in loving and mentoring Carson and Clare Tester from birth, whom they count as bonus grandchildren. And Emmanuel Ogundipe, whom they supported to become a permanent resident on his way to American citizenship.
After retirement, Jerry and Karen kept busy with family and travel – enjoying the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, New York City and many trips to Utah, California, Alaska and Canada.
A favorite ‘get away’ was the Garden Valley cabin they inherited from Jerry’s father in the 70’s. They loved to entertain family there with fireside chats, music and marshmallow roasting. Jerry tended the grounds like he did his home – taking great care to keep it tidy. It was in these years, Jerry composed The Cabin Song, the first of many ditties he created to celebrate the people and places he loved. Many of these songs were printed in his meticulous handwriting and framed as mementoes and gifts.
In 1995, Jerry joined the Caldwell Centennial Band and remained a member for many years including three as musical director. The band also served as the College of Idaho pep band for three years. A crowd of friends usually enjoyed the summer concerts in the park – and ice cream at Dairy Queen was a post-performance ritual before they all headed home.
In his later years, Jerry joined Karen as a Temple worker for ten years. He also served many callings in his ward – his favorite was being a greeter for sacrament service. He also enjoyed Family Home Evenings with a group of long-time friends from church. The group remains intact today after 35 years of gathering.
Jerry was a kind, gentle soul who influenced so many lives for good. The sparkle in his eye made each person feel as if they were his favorite. He was a detailed storyteller, avid game player, great listener, spiffy dresser and lover of great music. His light on this side has dimmed, but peace and joy are now fully his in heaven. We are so thankful he was part of our lives.