Curt Howard, age 99, of Tonasket and Okanogan passed away quietly at home on January 25, 2023, after living a long and rich life pursuing his many passions.
Born the youngest of three boys in Wisconsin, Curt would recall that his vision was shaped by “a round the world all expense paid cruise” he was sent upon by his uncle. He meant Uncle Sam, and the trip was his WWII service in the U.S. Navy. After boot camp at Farragut, Idaho he trained as a torpedo man and served on submarine, aircraft carrier and seaplane tender, traveling Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans and Caribbean and South China Seas.
After the war, his same “Uncle” provided Curt with an “all-inclusive four-year scholarship” to Stout Institute, where he received a degree in education. After teaching in Missoula for a year, he returned to Wisconsin to work as a partner on his first wife’s family farm.
Several years passed when Curt decided to “head west until he found a good job.” Luckily, it was at Boeing in Seattle, because “you can’t get much further west.” It was in Washington State where he discovered many of his life-long passions; plants, mountains and environmental stewardship. Spending every spare moment out in nature, climbing, hiking, exploring and gardening, Curt eventually became his own boss as a general contractor, building homes in Washington and New Mexico to support his habit!
Curt became a master gardener, president of the South King County Rhododendron Society, and he helped found the South King County Arboretum and was past president of Snohomish County Pilchuck Audubon Society. It was here he met his future wife and partner of over 30 years, Suzanne.
Mountains never lost their allure for Curt. He taught beginning mountaineering at the University of Washington and led many climbs. Notably, he was involved in an expedition to climb glaciers in Greenland in 1971. He kept hiking, backpacking and canoeing well into his 90s.
The final home Curt built was the homestead up on North Siwash Creek “from the dirt up.” Buying 40 acres of dirt with a 300 degree mountain view in 1998 was the ultimate paradise and challenge. Curt proceeded to tear down old buildings scheduled for demolition and build our home out of 90 percent recycled materials. There was no power, phone, etc. in the area at the time. Suzanne continued with her business to help bankroll their dream while Curt built. In 2006, they moved into Mariposa Slope where they stayed until Curt’s deteriorating health necessitated a move to the City of Okanogan.
Curt served on the board of the Community Cultural Center in Tonasket, was a lifetime member of the Tonasket Community Co-op and Green Okanogan, as well as a supporter of OHA and OVOC. Truly, Curt embraced the Okanogan Valley and the Okanogan Valley embraced him.
Curt was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, his first wife and many friends, notably Barbara Williams. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Dailey Howard and many friends, including Eiichi Fukoshima, the Liollas hiking group (Mary Ann and Byron Sutton, Julia McNeill and Lynn Chandler.)
Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Tonasket at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 22nd. A reception and celebration of life will follow hosted by The Altar Society at the Parish Hall next door to the church. April 22nd also happens to be Earth Day, such a fitting day to honor a man who cared deeply for the earth.