A memorial service to remember and celebrate the life of James Otis “Jim” Howard will be announced in the coming days. On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., those who wish to pay their respects to Jim through a viewing are welcome. Jim passed from this life on March 23, 2020, in Tulsa. He was 77. Those who wish to honor his memory with a memorial donation may direct those donations to the church that he loved: Southwest Church of the Nazarene, 1307 W. 22nd St., Tulsa, OK 74107.
Born the middle sibling of five, Jim was welcomed into this world by parents: William Edward “Buck” Howard and Annie Maxine (Jones) Howard in Baxterville, Mississippi, on March 11, 1943. Jim would grow up in Baxterville and nearby Oak Grove, where he attended elementary and junior high school and began learning those true ‘southern gentleman’ traits that Jim personified. He would later graduate high school in Lumberton, Mississippi.
Jim’s father, an oilfield pumper with Gulf Oil, was transferred from Mississippi to Shawnee, Oklahoma, during Jim’s senior year of high school. Jim would stay with his cousin as he finished that last year, and then he began trying to get to Shawnee. This, as he packed a bag and hitched rides, with strangers, along the nearly 700-mile journey. Jim would make it halfway to his Aunt's home in Richardson, TX, where his parents came and picked him up to take him the rest of the way to Shawnee. There, Jim attended and graduated college from Oklahoma Baptist University.
Following OBU, Jim went to work for BP Amoco. He began his employment, with the company, in the mailroom while furthering his education and focusing on accounting through Oklahoma State University. Ultimately, that was the task he performed for Amoco for 29 years. During retirement, Jim began driving a school bus for Tulsa Union. This part-time gig turned into a full-time driver for the Special Ed Students, for 15 years. This brought so much joy to Jim as he was able to be around some pretty amazing students and teachers.
When he was not at work, Jim could be found running, bicycling, working in his yard, or volunteering for various events and organizations. You may have seen Jim, with an event staff t-shirt on, at the Gatesway Balloon Festival, Rt. 66 Marathon, Post Oak Run, Mayfest, Living Arts Tulsa, or Oktoberfest, where he served on the Event Management Team.
Jim would meet Karen Kilgore-Harrison, in 1987, while mixing with the Phoenix Singles Group at Christ United Methodist Church in Tulsa. Although they didn’t stay together permanently, at that time, they eventually would. After a long friendship, the two would meet up again, and on June 7, 2004, tied the knot in a Eureka Springs, Arkansas wedding ceremony. To their surprise, a family friend, Pastor Robert May, drove in from Tennessee with his family to officiate the small garden wedding at the Piedmont House Bed & Breakfast.
This couple, of great faith, enjoyed volunteering, and serving together. Together, and individually, both have been active in the ministries at the Southwest Church of the Nazarene. There, Jim had served on the board and provided regular lawncare and handyman tasks, while they joined together for weekly cleaning of the facilities.
When Jim and Karen had the opportunity, they loved long weekend getaways, and they also were able to enjoy several cruises over the years, making wonderful and lasting memories.
Described as: a super nice guy, soft-spoken, easy-going, and fun to be around, it seems that Jim will be remembered for almost always having a smile on his face. He also, almost always, had a toothpick in his mouth or nearby and could easily be recognized by his straw hat that he wore in the yard or one of his many ballcaps that he wore out in public.
Jim met regularly with a group of other retirees to drink coffee and solve the world’s problems at McDonald’s. Jim’s contribution to that group will be missed. Jim will be deeply missed by all of those who knew and loved him.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his loving wife, V Karen Howard; son, Marc Howard; siblings: Evelyn Osborn and husband, Bill; Billy Howard and wife, Jan; Gwen Barton; and Faye Wilson and husband, Lon. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and dear friends.
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