Leonard Howard Jr.
Wrens, GA – A family man and life-long farmer, Leonard Howard Jr.'s last words were to ask about his kin and when it was supposed to rain. The loving husband of the late Ruth Virginia Russell Howard, he entered into his eternal rest Friday morning, October 6, 2017 in his home. Funeral services will be held in the James Funeral Home Chapel at 2:00 P.M. Sunday afternoon, October 8, 2017. Interment will follow in the Russell Family Mausoleum in Keysville.
Born at home in rural Burke County on March 29, 1924, Leonard was the sixth of 12 children born to Linton and Leila Howard. Sharecroppers, he joined his parents and siblings in the fields at an early age and was plowing with a mule as soon as he was big enough. By age 15, he joined the Works Progress Administration, one of the most ambitious New Deal programs designed to help pull America’s working class out of the Great Depression.
At 17 years old he joined the United States Army as a machine gunner and became a rifle marksman, combat infantryman and earned his parachutist’s badge.
Before being shipped to Europe to join the fighting in World War II, he met the love of his life and eloped in 1944, carrying Ruth across a cornfield and helping her over three fences.
During the war he served in Ardennes, the Rhineland and central Europe, accompanying Patton’s troops into the Battle of the Bulge where he earned a Purple Heart after getting frostbite fighting in the snow. After recovering in a battlefield hospital, he returned to the conflict, parachuting into the conflict on the Rhine River.
Leonard was on a boat on his way to parachute into Japan when the war ended. While in service he earned the American Theater Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon with three Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal and World War II Victory Medal in addition to his Purple Heart.
He never spoke much about the war or his time there, but preferred to keep the majority of those memories private.
After returning home, he used the GI Bill to study construction and ran a dairy before going to work as a Veterans Administration orderly in Augusta.
Leonard told his family that he remembered the medic who “saved his feet” by carrying him around in the battlefield hospital during the war and felt he owed the solders he served at the VA the best attention he could give them because of the service that soldier had shown him. He retired from the VA after 30 years of service and then spent several years working in a similar capacity at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Augusta and later for Sizemore Security.
Throughout his life, on his own time, he continued to farm the fields around his Keysville and Wrens homes, planting traditional row crops like cotton and soybeans, but was well known in the area for his watermelons.
His grandchildren have said that he taught them how to work, what was fair, and how you should treat family.
When he retired from his own work, he went to work for his son and, up until this summer, could be seen riding in the Howard Sand dump truck delivering loads across the CSRA.
A man of few words, he valued most the love of his family and the humble pride earned from a full day of hard work.
Leonard is also preceded in death by his daughter, Aquila Howard; and ten of his siblings. Those left to cherish his memory include his children, Donna Cunningham (James) and Lex Howard (Molly); brother, Frank Howard (Alice); five grandchildren, Rachel Hardyman, Eric Cunningham (Ashley), Clay Cunningham, Parish Howard (Amanda) and Matt Howard (Andrea); eleven great grandchildren, Paul Davis, Savannah Davis, Jacob Davis, Paige Perry (Austin), Eric Cunningham II, Morgan Cunningham, Hayden Howard, Lexie Lou Howard, Baby (Parish) Howard, Mandolyn Howard and Kamry Howard; a great-great grandson, Abel Perry; a host of nieces, nephews and friends. Serving as pallbearers will be Eric Cunningham, Clay Cunningham, Parish Howard, Matt Howard, Marcus Howard and James Williford.
The family will receive friends at James Funeral Home from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. Saturday evening, October 7, 2017.