Deceased October 11, 2018
After an 11-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, Howard Wolman ’58, formerly of New York City and later Key West, Fla., died of a heart attack at Sinai Residences Memory Care facility in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018. He is survived by his devoted life partner, Dennis Hudson, as well as by a niece and a nephew and their respective spouses and children.
A classics major, Howard, who was known as Howie by his classmates, came to Amherst from Baltimore. He pledged Theta Delta Chi, was solicitations chairman of the Chest Drive and belonged to the Christian Association, Debate Council, Intramural Council and Masquers. Moe Wolff ’58 remembers him as a “wonderful man with an infectious laugh and an ever-present smile...a great man for conversation...a true seeker of knowledge...always ready for a friendly debate...and always ready to listen to another point of view.”
Freud maintained that our two great tasks in life are leben und arbeiten, live and work. According to Howard’s autobiography in our 50th reunion book, these were the main challenges he addressed in the years immediately following our graduation.
With respect to arbeiten, although his father pushed him toward politics and the law, Howard was inspired and chose to pursue an academic career, preferring the life of a professor to that of a politician. This choice was reinforced by two years teaching classical Latin and Greek at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.
Howard returned to Baltimore and enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in classics in 1966 while teaching Latin and other courses at Boys Latin School. He then taught classics at Dartmouth before joining the classics faculty at Brooklyn College in 1968. While at Brooklyn he moved beyond the core Latin and Greek curriculum to create a group of courses on “The Artist as a Humanist” which took advantage of the New York City cultural milieu to feature noted artists and performers from opera, ballet, drama and film discussing their artistic endeavors. Howard remained at Brooklyn College for 30 years before retiring as a full professor and moving to Key West in 1998.
With regard to leben, in 2008 Howard wrote in our 50th reunion book that while he was at Amherst, he had dated “a lively girl from a nearby college” for three years. “But after that I realized I really was gay.” In his last year at Hopkins, Howard met Dennis Hudson who “became a good friend...then became a very, very good friend!” They moved to New York together where, as noted, Howard joined the faculty at Brooklyn College. He and Dennis first moved to Brooklyn Heights together and then to Manhattan for the operas, theaters and museums. For 12 years they lived together, then, purchasing separate brownstones, for 21 years apart, occasionally traveling together as friends rather than partners. “Although I had several relationships during those years, none lasted too long. I was missing a partner,” Howard wrote.
Meanwhile, Dennis had moved to Key West. Howard visited a few times and finally realized that he and Dennis really belonged together. He took early retirement from Brooklyn College in 1998 and moved to Key West where he and Dennis bought a home with a garden and a pool. Over the next decade, Howard became an integral member of the Key West community, teaching courses similar to those he had offered at Brooklyn College as well as one on Tennessee Williams at Key West Community College. He also sang basso profundo with the Keys Chorale. Howard served on the boards of various nonprofit and civic organizations, including the Key West Art and Historical Society and the Founders Society. He was vice president of the Island Opera and of the Bahama Village Music Program, which provides musical training to underprivileged children. During this time, Howard and Dennis made two or three trips back to New York City each year as well as other destinations around the world.
These activities began to be curtailed after Howard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. For the first couple of years, Howard continued his daily trips to the gym and his choral singing, but by 2014, he had lost his five languages and much of his memory, although, aided by their wide circle of friends in Key West, Howard retained his sunny personality and outlook.
In 2016 Howard and Dennis moved into Sinai Residences, a newly completed total care facility in Boca Raton, Fla. Dennis moved into an independent living section, where he remains, and Howard entered an assisted-living section before transferring to a memory care unit in November 2016. There he died of heart attack in October 2018.
A short shiva gathering service was held Nov. 7, 2018. After cremation, Howard’s ashes are being left among his favorite places around the world.
Ned Megargee ’58