Howard Cole Stewart, Lt. Col., USAR, Ret., of Marietta, Ohio, peacefully entered eternity Saturday morning (Aug. 13, 2016).
Howard was born to Alfred Caldwell and Kitty Cole Stewart, Oct. 5, 1921, in Morgantown. Howard was raised in Fairmont, graduating from West Fairmont High School in 1939 where he served in student government and attended West Virginia Boys State. He spent a post-grad year at Mercersburg Academy. At West Virginia University he pursued a bachelor's degree in business administration. He belonged to Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and Scabbard and Blade, the ROTC military honor society.
The pretty, vivacious Barbara Alice Berry, three years his junior, caught Howard's eye and subsequently captured his heart. Howard and Barbara were married May 23, 1943, in the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont.
Together, in a marriage spanning 63 years, and five hometowns, they raised three children, Howard Cole Jr. (Bud) b. 1944, Melvin Berry (Mel) b. 1946 and Sally Carol b. 1952.
In 1944, Howard graduated from West Virginia University and was ordered to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was commissioned 2nd Lt. Inf. After months of unit training with the 14th Regiment of the 71st Infantry Division he entered WWII in southern France with his unit steadily advancing toward the Rhine River and eventually into Austria.
Howard was wounded in combat during a dangerous diversionary crossing of the Rhine River at Speyer, Germany. His platoon was assigned to cross first and to draw fire away from the main force. High casualties were expected. Howard's boat sustained a direct mortar hit as it landed ashore, killing the coxswain and blasting the men into the water. Howard, who carried shrapnel in his neck and back for the remainder of his life, was credited with returning his men to the craft and frog kicking the boat back to the friendly shore. His heroic action was recorded in the history of the 14th Regiment, a storied unit with history dating to the Civil War. Howard's decorations include Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star.
Following the war, Howard and Barbara lived in Fairmont, where he worked in the family loan business and was a community leader including: president Marion-Taylor Reserve Officers Association, president Marion County Red Cross, national director Junior Chamber of Commerce, head of ushers First Presbyterian Church, Scoutmaster BSA Troup 4 and exalted ruler Elks Lodge 294. In 1954, he was recognized as Fairmont Man of the Year. After a decade of service in the family business, Howard was appointed assistant director of the West Virginia Department of Mental Health in Charleston. During this time he returned to Staff and Command School at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Serving as commander of various reserve units in West Virginia and Ohio, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Following this public service he worked 25 years for Koppers in the road building and commercial roofing industries of Ohio and West Virginia. After a brief retirement, he returned to work at Deluxe Check in Indianapolis, where he served as plant custodial manager and member of the plant golf team. During this time Howard enjoyed service and fellowship as a Mason and Shriner.
When Barbara and Howard got serious about retirement, they returned to Marietta, Ohio, where they lived in Marietta's Glenwood Retirement Community. There Howard served as president of the Glenwood Association and returned to active membership in the Marietta Rotary Club. He highly valued his friendships gained and rekindled in Marietta.
Of particular note, Howard loved the sport of croquet. At Glenwood he master-minded the design and development of a grass court and the organization of a croquet league. Over a decade he encouraged others to join the sport and develop their skill. It was while he was actively enjoying this final burst of community participation and leadership that he experienced his final challenging illness that took his life.
Howard was predeceased by his parents; wife; brother, Alfred Edaire; sister, Juanita Frances Atha; and son, Melvin Berry.
He is survived by his children, Bud (Shari) of Tucson and Sally Summers (Scott) of Marietta; nephew, George of Fairmont, niece, Linda Allen of Newport Riche, Florida; grandchildren, Alice (Geoff Schenkel), Emily Manly (Jeremy) and Sarah Emilio (Drew); great-grandchildren, Amelia, Micah, Mia, Reagan, Ellie and Avey.
A memorial service will be held from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3. at Glenwood, 200 Timberline Drive, Marietta, Ohio. Howard and Barbara are expected to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery pending military orders. In lieu of flowers, perform an act of kindness to the benefit of an unsuspecting beneficiary.
Online condolences may be made at www.hadleyfh.com.
Published on August 20, 2016