Cover photo for Walter "Howdy" Howard's Obituary
Walter "Howdy" Howard Profile Photo
1917 Walter 2018

Walter "Howdy" Howard

April 9, 1917 — June 29, 2018

WALTER E. HOWARD (April 9, 1917 - June 29, 2018)

Walter E. "Howdy" Howard passed away peacefully in his home in Davis on June 29, 2018.  Howdy was born in the Woodland clinic on April 9, 1917 as Davis did not have a hospital.  He was a Davis resident for most of his 101 years, graduating from Davis High School in 1935.

Howdy was the youngest of four sons of UC Davis Professor Walter L. Howard and May Belle Cooper Howard.  Howdy loved the outdoors, his work, and international travel.  When in the forest, he was fond of saying that he "could never get tired of looking at the trees".

He attended UC Berkeley from 1935-1939 where met Elizabeth "Betty" Kendall.  After he graduated from Cal, they married in Berkeley on June 12, 1940.  The next morning he and Betty arrived in Yosemite where Howdy reported for duty as a summer ranger.

Howdy started his PhD program at the University of Michigan, but his graduate education was interrupted by World War II.  He volunteered for the U.S. Army ski troops in December 1942.  His unit, the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment (later part of the 10th Mountain Division), participated in the campaign to recapture Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.  Later, he became a second lieutenant and was assigned to the U.S. Typhus Commission, which studied the cause of typhus in Upper Burma at the end of the war.  In January 1946, he was discharged and resumed his graduate work at the University of Michigan.  He received his PhD in animal ecology in 1947, likely the first to receive a PhD in this subject.

In 1947, he was hired by the University of California, Division of Agricultural Zoology at the University of California Farm at Davis to undertake field research at the San Joaquin Experimental Range and then to teach and continue his research at UC Davis until he retired in 1987 at the then mandatory retirement age of 70.  He was a pioneer in vertebrate ecology and his work took him to about 80 countries.  He studied environmental damage caused by red deer, rabbits, and opossums for two one year assignments in New Zealand in 1957 and 1963.

In later years, he particularly enjoyed teaching courses on the issues of over population.  He was a founder of the Vertebrate Pest Conference and was involved in many professional and civic organizations.

He enjoyed a lively debate and told a good story.  After retiring, he wrote books on animal welfare and ecology and an autobiography, "Saved by Bed Bugs!"

Howdy is survived by his wife Betty of 78 years of marriage, who is also 101 years old.  They celebrated their 100th birthdays together at the International House in Davis with relatives.  Howdy is also survived by his three children - Tom Howard of Yuba City, Kathryn Crow of Oakland, and Casey Howard of Baker City, Oregon, five grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.  Pursuant to Howdy's wishes, there will be no memorial service beyond the 100th birthday party.  In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Yolo Hospice or the charity of your choice.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Walter "Howdy" Howard, please visit our flower store.


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