Joseph N. Howard Jr., 67, businessman, volunteer

August 15, 1999|By Zerline A. Hughes | Zerline A. Hughes,STAFF STAFF

Joseph Nelson Howard Jr., an independent grocer, food dealers' association official and volleyball enthusiast, died Monday from complications of pneumonia at the Franklin Woods Center. He was 67 and lived in Perry Hall.

In 1978, Mr. Howard took over Howard's Bi-Rite, his father's Hamilton grocery store on Harford Road.

He began helping his father in the store when he was 12, and learned the business while attending Polytechnic Institute.

He met his wife, the former Charlotte L. Straub, while working at Howard's. They were married for 30 years.

As an independent businessman, Mr. Howard worked extremely long hours, but he made time for his family on Sundays. He also worked as a volunteer for several organizations.

"He was a workaholic," said Bi-Rite co-owner and childhood friend Paul Stricker. "He loved the business. It was in his blood and he was very active."

A member of board of directors of the Mid-Atlantic Food Dealers Association from 1978 to 1996, Mr. Howard was elected chairman of that board in 1988.

He received the Spirit of America Award from the National Grocers' Association in 1991.

Mr. Howard, known to friends as "Junior," also won many sports awards. Once a star high school basketball player at Polytechnic, he mastered volleyball nearly 30 years ago.

He played at least twice a week and competed in the Maryland Senior Olympics, where he won three gold medals.

With a group of friends, he formed the Middle River Volleyball Club in 1970 and later joined the U.S. Volleyball Association.

The club named its annual February Tournament -- The Nelson Howard Invitational -- in his honor in 1992.

Mr. Howard also volunteered for the Maryland Special Olympics.

"He was a very serious, hard player and he played until the day he got sick," said Mr. Stricker, a longtime friend.

"He had a gorgeous smile, a famous grin he and our son have," said Mrs. Howard. "They can't tell a lie because when you look at their face, they'll just start to grin. He had a great love for life. Anyone that knew him never said a bad word about him."

Services were held Thursday in Perry Hall.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by five sons, Dale K. Howard of Joppatown, David A. Howard of Pasadena, Joseph Nelson Howard III of Baltimore, Robert P. Koone and Gregory K. Koone of Frederick; two daughters, Connie L. Jones of Rosedale, and Francine L. Falconer of Detroit; a sister, Nancy Hucke of Spring, Texas; and 17 grandchildren.

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