HOWSON, WALTER "RED"

HOWSON, Walter "Red" Yeatts Jr. After an 18-year battle with illness, our father, Red Howson, passed away on October 17, 2019, at the age of 77. An avid fan of mischief and merriment, community and service, family and friends, Dad didn't talk a blue streak like the rest of us, but what he did say was much more worth listening to. He was a favorite of his many caretakers over the years, never complained--even though he had every right to--and always took an interest in the lives of others. In healthier years, he would spend many hours checking on friends and neighbors in need of support, doing something mysterious with legal pads and manila folders on the dining room table, using a raised eyebrow to strongly suggest the rest of us quiet down and teaching us kindness by example. His career in commercial banking and international and institutional investment sales--later, career management--kept him on the road, but he still managed to attend countless ball games, dance recitals, plays, piano and debate competitions, prom send-offs, spelling bees and graduations. Difficult test at school coming up? Dad was your guy. Crushed by young love? He managed to be sage about that, too. Born in 1942, in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Dad survived childhood hydrocephalus and a bout with polio, stubbornly beating all medical odds. The oldest child of Walter Y. Howson Sr. and Elizabeth B. Howson, he grew up in Wayne, Pa., and was a much-loved class president and "key man" at The Haverford School. Later, he earned a B.A. in history from Yale University and a diploma from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. When we were kids, Dad was equally as passionate about his free time as he was about work and education. On Saturday mornings, he would grab a canoe and one or two kids and head out to a lake somewhere for a few hours of fishing and talking. Or he would take us to the James River, where we would hop rocks and shoot through rapids with or without life jackets (sorry, Mom!). His annual charter fishing trips for "blues" were the stuff of legend. Together, we would let trains flatten pennies, let him destroy us in chess, play a game of his own invention called "running bases" and watch his face light up the minute he felt sand between his toes. He always said that in another life, he'd be a drummer, but in this one, he contented himself with having all four kids work in record stores. After singing in both high school and college glee clubs, he founded the men's group The Wesleyan Singers at church, and was a longtime member. He insisted we all learn life's most important lessons: how to drive a 5-speed, change a tire, take responsibility for our actions and ask to speak to someone's supervisor. Hamburgers were always charcoal on the outside and bleeding on the inside, but he looked cool in madras shorts and penny loafers when he was at the grill. He never met an ice cream cone, Oreo cookie, bucket of fried chicken, 7-11 coffee or Fleetwood Mac song he didn't like. On Sundays in the fall, Dad would eat a giant bowl of soup and watch the Philadelphia Eagles, but famously walked away from the set when the action got too tense. But real-life nail-biters were his strong suit, and he was the one we sought when life's downs seemed seriously scary. Dad felt strongly that one should establish their own beliefs and re-examine them from time to time to make sure they still held water. He knew people were capable of change, and never shied away from difficult paths to self-improvement. When we presented him with challenges, he'd give us the understated encouragement we needed, but expected us to come up with our own solutions. Prone to quiet introspection and internalized emotion, Dad was sometimes tricky to figure out. He valued integrity, respect and humility, and tried his best to lead with those qualities. That's really the best way to explain him: a man who tried, all the time, to do what was best. It's difficult to reconcile the fact that he didn't get a chance to enjoy his retirement, but in another sense, we're beyond lucky he made it to adulthood in the first place. It was a beautiful, tumultuous ride, Dad, and we thank you and Mom for making it all possible. Summer rules. Red's life forever impacted wife, Barbara Carr Howson; sister, Elizabeth Meredith Howson Cox and husband, John Cox of Litchfield, Conn.; son, David Carr Howson of Westport, N.Y.; son, Michael Yeatts Howson and daughter-in-law, Ritsuko Howson of Clarksburg, Md.; daughter, Lesley Howson Bruno and son-in-law, James Bruno of Richmond; daughter, Susan Leigh Howson of Richmond, as well as her partner, Marcus Shrock. He had four grandchildren: Sachi Nicole Howson and Miki Carol Howson, both of Clarksburg, Md., Archie Carr DiNunzio and Georgia Bea Bruno, both of Richmond. His brother, Philip Beyea Howson passed away in April of 2014, but he'd have had a lot to add to this obituary. A memorial service will be held at Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, Midlothian, Virginia, on Friday, November 1, 2019, at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends at a reception afterwards in the Family Life Center. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the James River Park or the Brandermill Woods Resident Employee Appreciation Fund.

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