A formidable man in stature and character, Big Dick Howard had a huge influence as a member of Pleasanton North Rotary and its president from 1992 to 1993. Our club’s Rotarian of the Year trophy was named – with tongue in cheek – “The Big Dick Howard Award” in his honor. It symbolizes his historic importance to our club and his sense of humor.
Many of our older members kept in touch with Dick and his family after they moved to Colorado, then to Washington State, to live out his retirement. Dick died recently at age 90. Below, Past Presidents Frank Hanna and Wayne Yeaw, and Charter Member Jim Ott share memories of this great PNR leader.
Dick was a giant of a man, physically, soulfully and service wise. He had an ability to make everyone feel as though they were part of PNR for years even though they may have been new members. His ability to get members to volunteer for projects was unmatched. He simply walked up behind you, put his arm around your shoulder, looked down while handing you the signup sheet and said, "Have you signed this yet?" The whole time he was grinning ear to ear!
From the club’s beginning in 1987, Dick Howard was the one person that made Pleasanton North Rotary special. He was bigger than life and the personification of the Rotarian principle of “Service Above Self!”
From the construction of Rotary Commons, a seven-unit affordable housing project in Pleasanton, to various projects for Shepard's Gate, to work for Kaleidoscope, a school for disabled kids and every project in between, we followed Dick’s lead, and he made sure we were all involved.
Dick Howard was one of those bigger-than-life people who occasionally come along in life. His ever-present smile was warm and welcoming. Good looking, athletic, charismatic--he was a wonderful fellow with qualities that suited his profession as a commercial real estate broker. And by "bigger-than-life" I mean this in terms of both his height and his personality. He was the kind of guy who could scoop you up into a hug and make you feel special.
Dick was a unique founding member of our club in his values and authentic commitment to Service Above Self. I'll never forget a board meeting at his beautiful house off Foothill Road when I served as treasurer. His vision for our club was contagious, especially his vision to build affordable housing in town that became known as Rotary Commons which is located at Palomino Drive and Concord Way.
Dick and his wife Joanne lived in Pleasanton for three decades before retiring to Colorado in the late 1990s where Dick joined the Carbondale Rotary. Joanne Howard served for many years as the board chair of Hope Hospice in Pleasanton. They were an amazing couple who gave selflessly of themselves. Today's PNR club owes a debt of gratitude to Dick and Joanne Howard. May they live forever in our memories and in the service we provide to others.
From his year as PNR president, I remember his “Rotrivia” game, his large perfect attendance board, and his large size coffee mugs. He was such a big man that it took a dozen of us to move his bed out of his house when he and his wife Joanne moved to Florida.
The Howards were always “the couple” in our great town, and they always looked up my wife Pam and I when they returned to visit.