Ralph O’Sullivan Howard

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2016

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Ralph O’Sullivan Howard, a prominent attorney for the United States Government, passed away on June 22, 2016, in Alpharetta (metro Atlanta), Georgia. Mr. Howard served his local community, church, state, and nation for over 35 years. A memorial service will be held at St. David’s Episcopal Church, in Roswell, GA, on Saturday, July 9, 2016, at 11:00 AM.

Ralph Howard was born in Troy on August 25, 1928, the youngest of four children of Herbert Roscoe Howard and Martha (Mattie) Sullivan Howard. His integrity and Christian principles stand as witness to his upbringing by his parents, both lifelong leaders of the Troy First Baptist Church. Mr. Howard attended Troy High School (1942-46); and Troy State University (1946-47) on a Radio Broadcasting scholarship, calling high school games for a local radio station not from a press box but from under the bleachers, as was typical in those days. Mr. Howard’s rich baritone voice served him well in radio work (WTBC/Tuscaloosa and elsewhere) and later, in various church, civic and legal endeavors. After transferring to the University of Alabama in 1948, he majored in Radio and graduated in 1950. Due to Korea, he was drafted into the United States Army at that time, later emerging from the Army Reserve as a First Lieutenant, Infantry. In November 1950 Mr. Howard married Katherine Pill (Howard) of Montgomery, from whom he was divorced in 1967.

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Between 1953 and 1958 Mr. Howard was a successful executive in radio broadcasting as President and General Manager of radio station WHEP in Foley, Alabama, the station that first brought radio to Alabama’s Gulf coast. Though successful in radio, Ralph Howard found his life’s calling in Law. In 1958 he entered the University of Alabama Law School. Upon graduation in 1961, Mr. Howard and his family moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he joined an established private practice. Mr. Howard’s long career in Federal Government service began with his 1964 appointment as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. A second appointment followed in 1968, to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery. In both the Southern and Middle Districts Mr. Howard represented the Justice Department of the United States in Selma and other Alabama localities during the Civil Rights years of the 1960s.

After serving as District Counsel for South Carolina for the Small Business Administration from 1969-72, Ralph Howard in 1972 became the Regional Counsel for the General Services Administration (GSA) regional office in Atlanta. Until his retirement in late 1990, Mr. Howard was responsible for all GSA legal work in the eight southeastern U.S. states which comprise Region 4. He was responsible for the extensive legal work required to select and purchase many prominent federal buildings and U.S. Courthouses in the southeastern United States. Mr. Howard also supervised a large office of attorneys and administrative personnel, taught criminal law at the former Police Academy in Marietta GA, and taught ethics to GSA personnel for 18 years. Upon retiring, he taught two-week seminar classes in Contract Law for Government executives involved in real estate and property contracts. He taught these courses at locations across the nation. He also wrote two books: Government Contracts, and a companion teaching manual for government contract law instruction, which were published for use Government-wide.
Mr. Howard served his community all his life, by serving as an officer in many organizations ranging from local blood drives, the local Rotary Club, the Alabama Broadcasters Association, and others. After joining the Episcopal Church in 1954, he attended churches in the towns of coastal Alabama and Mobile, and later, St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell. To further the church’s mission, Mr. Howard served at various times throughout his life as Senior and Junior Wardens, vestryman, lay reader, and adult Sunday school teacher.

Ralph, or Dad, as he was known to family and friends, will be joyfully remembered as a loving husband and father, a family man with a warm smile and a room-filling laugh. His rich baritone voice could always bring wonderful stories and jokes to life. To all of us blessed to be his family and friends, Ralph told many stories of his life and those close to him. Tragic stories, such as his children recall him telling of the massacre at Fort Mims Alabama, became unforgettable. Though not an outgoing man, if you knew him as a friend you felt valued, and knew that he would do anything to help you. A man of deep ethical convictions, he was blessed with a strong discernment for the right. He particularly hated bigotry and racism and did not shy away from asking others to confront it, and thus was proud of his service in the Justice Department at a time when the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts (1964, -65) became the laws of the land in the United States. His sense of humor was deep and sometimes sharp. He was also a man who loved the written and spoken word, and the English language. Ralph was passionate about Alabama football, cheering on the Crimson Tide faithfully across the decades. He also greatly enjoyed his family’s dogs over the years, and was known for years in his neighborhood in Roswell GA for his memorable if unusual long-distance dog-walking with a book, often an apple, and dog leash in hand. There are so many more stories about him that we will all remember.

In addition to his parents, Ralph Howard was preceded in death by one brother, Herbert Roscoe Howard, Jr., and one sister, Helen Lake Howard. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Caroline Crumbley Howard; by his brother, Dr. Charles Edwin Howard and wife Dorothy Sellers Howard of Murfreesboro, TN; daughter Margaret Howard Barrow of Daphne, AL; son Ralph O. Howard Jr. and his wife Susanne Howard of Atlanta; son H. Edgar Howard of Gadsden, AL; stepson William Wells Kilgore and his wife Sandra Brooks Kilgore of St. Simons Island GA; stepson John Andrew Kilgore of Atlanta; stepson Geoffrey Carlton Kilgore and his wife Stacy Simpson Kilgore of Atlanta; and four grandchildren, eight step-grandchildren and one step-greatgrandchild.