Friday, December 26, 2008


December 26, 2008


On December 21, 2008 at 2:30 AM, little Miss Opal Maliha Howard came to join us after a most tumultous year. She was born C-Section due to being breech. She weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces and is 21 inches long. She has lots of sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and is very fair complected. She is the exact image of Jonathan's newborn pictures. She will be called Opal or "Little O" for short after Jack's Mother who is 96 years old and resides in Lexington, KY.

Jonathan stayed with Megan the entire 5 days she was in the hospital. The baby stayed in the room with them. They all arrived home safely on Christmas morning. Everyone is doing beautifully.

Courtenay and I left Boston on Friday, December 19, my Dad's 85th birthday barely missing a major winter snow storm as we headed to Los Angeles. We plan to be here until January 3, 2009 enjoying family and getting acquainted with "Little O".

We feel very blessed to have all of you share our ups and downs of this challenging and difficult year that is coming to a close with new life and hope in this beautiful little new Howard addition. We pray that the Lord will bless and keep you, make His eyes shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you His peace that passess all understanding by His magnificence grace and love.

With love to each of you,
Carolyn and family

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN - October 15, 2008

October 15, 2008

It is difficult to believe that Jack has been home with the Lord for three months as of last week. Tomorrow is Jack’s birthday. He would have been 71. I decided that this final chapter would be a very good birthday present in his memory and good time to close this book on our breathtaking experience that began August 22, 2007.

I will begin by thanking everyone who has faithfully followed us through this experience via emails, letters, cards, visits, or helping us with the thousands of details and the seemingly endless things of all parts of this journey. I want to especially thank our families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors for the amazing embrace of your love, care, and help throughout but especially for the memorial services in Boston and Kentucky. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude and blessings that all of you have been to us at every rough path, hard turn, and in the quiet of the moment. We praise our Lord for all of you as you poured out your hearts to us. What an amazing gift you have been.

Jack’s memorial service was in Boston on July 16, 2008 with a few hundred people in attendance. Many wonderful people came to honor him and we were honored by their presence. We had a beautiful summer day to celebrate a life well lived. Jack would have enjoyed the message that pointed to our need of our Lord. He would likely have been embarrassed by all of the amazing words of so many that loved him. We had another service in Kentucky on September 12, 2008 in the First Baptist Church where Jack and I first interacted on the weekend of his sister, Myra’s wedding. Many people that attended were related to Jack, had grown up with Jack, been college roommates with Jack or who had known the family for generations. Jack’s high school principal and his wife attended. People came from far and wide again with many people to celebrate Jack’s life. The Kentucky people gathered KY wild flowers and fruits for table decorations that were very beautiful. Many made all of their special recipes that only Southern folk know about. We were very touched by so much done for us by so many.

Jack’s resting place is at Skaggs Creek Cemetery about ¼ mile from the farm where he was born and grew up. There are sweeping views of rolling hills and fields of green – a very Kentucky landscape. On his tombstone below his name is written “A loving and loved man”. At the very bottom, we wrote, “The Lord is My Shepherd” from Psalm 23 which Jack quoted in its entirety when he prayed before dinner. Between our names is written a LL which Jack always wrote in a special way with the L’s interlocking. Jack called me LL meaning “little luv”. He called me this almost from the very beginning inspired from an E. E. Cumming’s poem “My Luv is Like a Red, Red Rose”. So many shared things over a life time which seems so short now.

Following the KY service, we had a wonderful Branstetter reunion at Branstetter Park the next day. Jack’s Mother is a Branstetter. There were nine children in that family – three are still living. Jack had 54 first cousins between the two parents with most of them being on his Mother’s side giving much reason to even have a Park named after this family. It is a wonderful gathering every other year with family represented from all nine children. There were probably about 100 people at the reunion - another amazing group of people that fed us well from the many Southern family recipes. These people had closely followed the blog. It was a time of renewal of many friends and family.

Jonathan and Megan left at the end of August to return to Los Angeles. They are currently getting settled into a new apartment and for Jonathan, a new job. We are grateful that we had several months with them to support us and help us during this experience. I never could have adequately explained this journey. Their lives are about to change dramatically as they expect Baby Howard to arrive December 19. You must stay in touch to know the details. We do not know whether it is boy or girl. Jack would have loved this little one.

Courtenay and I are back to work but life is not the same. Each day is surprise. I had truly never anticipated the amount of energy that the grieving process consumes. I have many days where I have no energy at all. I have other days where all I want to do is cry and I do. I have had some flickers of light that make me think there is a better day ahead. I never know from one day to the next what the day will bring. I am continuing, by the grace of God, to trust in His care for me and the children. My sister ,Suzanne, thought it might be helpful to create a blog about my journey with grief. So far, I have not been able to do that since what I feel is truly not describable in words. Sometimes, the pain is so deep that I feel that my heart cannot contain it and that I am surely not going to survive this new challenge. Quickly, the Lord comes to my aid and lifts me up out of my mire. The Lord is completely carrying me on this road as He does all roads. I have had many wonderful consoling things said to me by many people. One of them was, “Carolyn, you are going to spend eternity with Jack, so be sure to enjoy today.” That thought was a real blessing to me because spending eternity with Jack is eclipsed by spending eternity with the Almighty God and our King Christ and to ponder doing it together. Another comment that brought me joy was “I am so warmed by how much you miss Jack – that must mean that you have many wonderful memories of him”. I do have many wonderful memories of him. We were truly blessed to have each other for 39 years of marriage. My grandfather would have said that would make our marriage “an endangered species”.

My Grandmother gave me a wonderful lesson in 1989 after my Grandfather had died. I stayed with her and even slept with her the night after she had buried him. I remember being so taken by observing her. The next morning, she got up at her usual time. She went into the kitchen and began to make bread. I have thought about that event so many times. Little did I realize that she was giving me one more of her many lessons. The lesson is that I must get up and make bread. I have been doing that through my work, my connecting with friends, my giving a picnic for Jack’s company employees, and resting my body and soul one day at time. Many days it is difficult to put one foot in front of another.

I am not the same person as I was months ago. I pray that by God’s grace, that I am kinder, more patient, more compassionate, more caring and loving, but most of all that I can proclaim even more the mercy of our Lord and share His wonderful hope as He has shared Himself with us. I can proclaim with the Psalmist David from Psalm 121:1-2 the following:
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
I came across these verses on a card that Jack gave me a few years ago. At the top of the card was my name, “Carolyn”. Underneath my name was “Song of Joy” followed by those verses. I want my song to be one of joy – joy in the years we had and the joy in the Lord we shared.

I would not wish this trial of Jack’s illness and death on anyone. It was so hard but at the same time, I would not replace this experience with anything. It was a time of close communion with each other as well as our family and so many friends that I could not begin to name them all. It was a wonderful time of gracious and tender mercy and care from our Lord. Jack is in a better place, much more perfect than this one. I hold him close in my heart and mind – he is always with me. My hope is that I can use this experience to help others in whatever ways I can to bring honor and glory to our Lord. It brings to mind Micah 6:8 –
“He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God”.

We will continue to remember all of you. We will post a blog in the beginning of the year announcing Jonathan and Megan's little one that is due on December 19. All of you, please stay in touch with us as our life’s journey and “bread making” continue to be breathtaking, by His grace.

Blessings to each of you,
Carolyn and family

Monday, September 15, 2008

Letter from Tom Gettings (Monroe Co. native) September 15, 2008

Dear Ms. Howard,

I saw the obituary for your husband, Dr. Howard in the Tompkinsville News today, which I still subscribe to after being away from Tompkinsville for many years.

I never knew your husband, however, I remember my father, Royce Gettings, telling me about your husband being a professor at MIT when I was in high school. I was planning to study engineering at UK and found it astonishing that someone from Tompkinsville would be a professor of engineering at MIT. Even then, twenty years after your husband graduated from UK, when you said you were going to study engineering most people in the county looked at you and asked if you were going to teach school J, so it is really something to have achieved the level of engineering success he did.

I remember when I first read about buckyballs in Popular Science and it's fascinating to see what a connection someone from Tompkinsville ended up having to them.

It is touching to see he was buried in Monroe County.

Thank you for sharing the story in the local paper. And as a engineer I particularly appreciate the incorporation of a equation into it. Of course you know that would make your husband, a true engineer, happy.


Tom Gettings
Taylorville, IL

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

KY Memorial Service Update

August 6, 2008

Believe it or not, it has been one month tomorrow that Jack has passed from this world to be with his Lord. The finality of his parting has been difficult. The same Lord that sustained us through his illness is continuing to provide for us during this difficult adjustment. Coming home at the end of the day or waking up in the morning without his presence somewhere nearby is stark and quiet. We miss him terribly but we rejoice knowing that he is home. We are rejoicing with a very heavy heart.

This weekend we will be going to KY to plan the memorial service to be held in Tompkinsville.
So the time, date, and place have been determined for those of you that follow the details through the blog.

The service will be held on Friday, September 12, 2008 at 10:30 AM CST at the First Baptist Church in Tompkinsville, KY followed by a reception in the church hall. The First Baptist Church is a fitting place for the service. This church was the first place that Jack and I spent some time together as we helped Myra get ready for her wedding. Jack and I made multiple trips from the Howard house to the church carrying wedding gifts to display at the reception. I remember so well that we did all of this work using Hugh Howard's pickup truck. One of my fond memories was how Jack was so curious about my interest in Chemistry. I was taken with all of the questions he asked me as though he was genuinely interested in me as a person. As you know the rest is history. It is very fitting for me to say my final goodbyes to him at this same church where it all began 41 years ago this September. He used to say that there was only one reason that we could have married, it was a marriage made in heaven. I feel enormously blessed to have been part of his life for so long. I had hoped it could have been longer.

I have communicated with Charlie Strode, Robert Miller, and Rosalie Wright (Mamie's daughter) and have found out that many of the wonderful people that knew Jack in and around Monroe County are working very hard to make this memorial for Jack a memorable day. We are so grateful to all of you who are reaching out to us in this time of sorrow. Your kindness is so appreciated. We would be unable to do this service without all of you.

If any of you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at or call me at 781-454-8170.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon.
Carolyn and family

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Condolence from Becky Rust, former assistant to Jack

Dear Carolyn:

Perhaps you won’t remember me, but I was Jack’s secretary from 1981-84. It was by sheer coincidence that I learned today of his passing, and I’m truly devastated. We so often take for granted that those who have been significant in our lives will always be around and always available. I assumed that I might come to Boston “at any time” and drop in and see him in Building 66 (though I did only once, and that was 16 years ago) and that he would still have a sweet smile and a kindly word for me. What a horrible shock it was to learn that he has already left for a better place.

I want to share my favorite memory of Jack with you. One day I was criticized by one of my bosses, who seldom bothered to speak to me at all. Jack noticed my downcast expression and asked me what was wrong. He then said, “Becky, you’re so wrong! Professor [ ] really likes you very much! He has said many nice things about you to me.” Although his statement was probably more diplomatic than true, I cheered up immediately and took on a more helpful, appreciative attitude toward that professor. Jack’s tactful comment – which was so typical of him – defused a troubled situation and made the office atmosphere pleasant again. I have often borrowed that approach and used it with my children!!

It has now been 24 years since I left the Chemical Engineering Department. I married a submarine officer (who will retire next year from the Navy) and we have two children, John (17) and Lindsey (11). John will be a senior at a classical Christian school this year, and I homeschool Lindsey. We live in Leesburg, Virginia.

As I said, it was an amazing coincidence that I learned of Jack’s passing two days after his funeral. I was researching something on the Internet, and a link took me to the MIT online newspaper (something that didn’t even exist when I worked at MIT). I saw Jack’s name and immediately clicked on it, expecting to read of his latest publication or honor. I was stunned to read instead that he had so recently passed away. I then found your blog and began to read all the entries, all the while asking myself, “Why did this happen? Why did I happen to read about Professor Howard today of all times?” When I read your beautiful testimony, I knew. Jack wanted everyone he had known to know about his love for the Lord. We had never discussed religion in the office, and I never knew what his feelings about the Lord really were (though I should have seen the Lord’s presence in his sweet life). It comforts me to think that his wishes are being fulfilled; that the Internet is being used to make his Christian testimony available to everyone who has ever known him. Thank you, Carolyn, for posting the testimony on your blog.

With deepest condolences to you, Jonathan, and Courtenay,

Rebecca Sharp Rust
Leesburg, Virginia

Friday, July 18, 2008

Antonio D'Alessio, a colleague from Italy

Dear Carolyn,
Jack was a great scientist and , for me , a sincere friend. During the years we met so many times in Boston or elsewhere so that our lives were somehow connected.

His loss is without consolation.
Ninni D'Alessio

Condolences from Jerry Cole, friend and colleague


It is difficult for me to express my sense of loss upon hearing of Jack's passing. Certainly on an intellectual level I've been expecting this for some months now. But the final announcement still left me with a sense of void, a strange emptiness. It is a symptom of my present age that many loved ones have departed in only the past few months, and that many others are soon to go. But I cannot let Jack's death go without at least a few special words for you and your family.

Meeting Jack for the first time back in 1979 turned out to be one of the most important and pivotal moments in my professional life. Our shared interests and goals made it easy for us to develop a friendship that lasted nearly three decades. Despite often not seeing or hearing from each other for years at a time, each time we got together, usually at a technical conference or some other forum, we never ran out of things to discuss, and always parted with a sense of anticipation for our next meeting.

Although it was easy for me to appreciate the importance of Jack's work from the moment I met him, it took me many years before I recognized something that in retrospect was much more special about him. In the world we shared Jack was the senior gentleman. He set standards for personal conduct and behavior toward others that are quite rare indeed. Jack was rarely coarse or short with people. He sought and found the best in what others had to say or present.

Jack didn't delude people, but he didn't dwell on their shortcomings - when needed he made them clear, while at the same time pointing out their strengths. Jack made an important impression on the world. Over the past couple decades I've had many situations where people have asked me to prepare them for a meeting with Jack. I'd always say that he was one of the nicest persons you'll ever meet. Consistently people made a point of getting back afterward to me to say how amazed they were that I was exactly right!

He will be missed.


Jerald ColeChief Technology Officer
Hydrogen Ventures1219 N. Studebaker RoadLong Beach, CA 90815
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