Deceased March 10, 2011
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Howard Williams, 99, died peacefully March 10 at the skilled nursing facility at Reeds Landing, Springfield, Mass., where he and his wife of 67 years, Betty (Smith ’42), had resided since 1995.
For 43 years before that, they lived in Longmeadow, Mass. Howard was born in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, 1912, and spent most of his childhood there. His family could not afford to send him to college, but Howard got there anyway, working six years to earn enough to pay for his first year at Amherst. He found inventive ways, such as typing and selling his class notes, to earn the money to stay in school, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1940.
He moved to New York City, where he worked for an advertising agency that, among other things, provided the commercials read by legendary broadcaster Red Barber during Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants games. Howard’s duties got him a seat in the broadcast booth, where he made sure Barber read the right commercials.
He earned a master’s degree at Columbia in 1941 and married Betty in 1943 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In 1947, with a baby in tow, the couple moved to Amherst, Mass., where Howard began writing for pulp magazines. He found he could not support a family on writing alone, so in 1948, he, Betty and two children moved to Clinton, N.Y., where he became assistant professor of English at Hamilton College. In 1952, now with three children, they moved to Longmeadow, and Howard went to work for Monarch Life Insurance Co. He retired as vice president, public relations, in 1973. Despite being a Type I diabetic, Howard lived 37 more years, thanks to a diet strictly enforced by Betty.