Timothy Leonard “Buddha” Howard of Parnell passed away on July 24, 2017 at the age of 75. He is survived by his long time love, Shirley Willis; his sons Patrick and Matthew (Maureen); his granddaughter Isabelle; brothers Thomas (Jean) and Richard (Irene); and numerous nieces; nephews and cousins.
Tim was a proud Navy veteran who served on the Observation Island, the principal test ship in the development of America’s submarine-launched missile capability (the old “Eggs And Grits for $1.54”). After a time as a communication electrician at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, and some harrowing work at Dow Chemical in Midland, he settled in to work with “Himself” Ralph Howard on the family farm. He attended classes at Kent Skill Center on construction, and over the past 40 years he single-handedly built numerous structures to support his ever-evolving agricultural business. Some say he had the strength of 10 men, but it was only ever proven to be equivalent to 2-3 men.
Tim cared deeply about preserving the rural agricultural way of life he enjoyed. He served for many years on the Montcalm County 4-H Fair Board, bringing a patient leadership that inspired many kids. Tim also served in Vergennes Township government, striving to maintain the rural character of the area for future generations. He recently celebrated the 175th anniversary of the founding of Howard Farms.
He was a solidly reliable presence for his family and friends, and a steady source of advice on any number of subjects. His quick smile, love of a good practical joke, keen insight, and unending disappointment with the Lions will be missed by all those who knew him. His pride in his granddaughter knew no bounds, despite the fact that she is a Buckeye fan.
He enjoyed traveling, often with no particular destination, as long as there was a good farm stand, fish market, or diner along the way.
His family will remember him with an open-house ceremony at his farm on August 12 starting at 2 p.m., with a toast in his honor. Tim wished for any remembrance contributions to be made to the Kent County’s Purchase Development Rights program to aid in the preservation of the rural life he loved (https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/BOC/PDR/contribute.htm).