There was no single thing a former Columbia Basin College instructor and coach did that inspired his four children to focus on their education.
“It was everyday life,” said Joe Howard, the only son of John and Virginia Howard. “It was everything he did.”
Joe Howard, along with his sisters Jonna Mayfield, Jeanene Landby and Judy Brown, were named CBC’s Outstanding Alumni for 2015-16 at Wednesday’s faculty and staff gathering in the college’s theater.
It’s the first time more than a single person has been honored at the event, which was a prelude to the start of fall classes Sept. 21.
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John Howard, who died June 30, was a fixture at the college’s Pasco campus and did a lot to promote CBC’s athletic programs, college officials said. But his energy was always truly for learning, his children said. It was a family mentality and the college is part of that family.
“It really epitomizes CBC, a family institution,” Mayfield said.
The four Howard siblings graduated from Pasco High School before earning associate degrees at CBC between 1981 and 1991. Three of them played sports at the college and two earned scholarships. Both Brown and Landby were crowned Miss Tri-Cities. All went on to earn bachelor’s degrees at Central Washington University or Washington State University.
Mayfield now works in physical therapy at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. Joe Howard has worked for Microsoft and IBM and now EMC Corp. Landby is sales director for the winery Mercer Estates, and Brown worked for the Washington State Bar Association before leaving to become a stay-at-home mom.
Virginia Howard also took business courses there, and her daughters’ husbands even attended CBC.
John Howard was on the Pasco campus for nearly 40 years, arriving in 1964 to join the physical education faculty and stepping down as the college’s golf and tennis coach in 2002. He also coached football before it was dropped in the mid-’80s.
The college won 10 conference golf championships and developed a wrestling program that won 53 straight dual meets over four years during Howard’s tenure.
“With good teachers, there’s a coaching and mentoring role to the job,” CBC President Rich Cummins told the Herald.
Today, Howard’s children said some of their earliest memories are of CBC, with Brown recalling the dirt road that connected it to west Pasco before Interstate 182 was finished and when the college’s tennis courts were installed. They also recalled the relationships their father developed with his players and how he pushed them athletically and academically.
“We know the buildings, we know the faculty,” Brown said. They said the faculty were like aunts and uncles.
The siblings said it was the balance between education and competition that John and Virginia Howard provided that made them who they are.
You had to do well in school if you wanted to play sports, Joe Howard recalled, but one of his sisters said it wasn’t just about earning good grades or wins on the field or court.
“It was always the process,” Landby said. “The process of learning, the process of competition.”
The family has established a memorial scholarship fund in John Howard’s name. They are aiming to award one to two scholarships a year to a CBC athlete.
But Wednesday was about celebrating what brought them back to CBC yet again.
“I know their father would be proud of them,” Virginia Howard said.