Howard Edward Greene was born in Chamblee, Ga., on 9 Feb. 1919. After living a long and successful life, Howard succumbed to complications from progressive supranuclear palsy at his beloved Crystal Lake, Mich., home on 21 July 2010 at the age of 91 years. He is survived by his wife, Lois; two sons, Howard Jr. (Ted) and Daniel; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held during 4th of July week in 2011, when family and friends have returned to Crystal.
Arrangements are being handled by Jowett Family Funeral Homes of Frankfort, Mich. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to CurePSP.
Howard was a classic member of the Greatest Generation. He grew up with his sister, Mary Louise (McMillan), in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, during the Great Depression. His father, Ivan, taught Latin and auto mechanics at East Technical High School, and Ivan was a stern taskmaster, as demonstrated by his coaching the most successful track team in Ohio, which included Jesse Owens. From Ivan, Howard inherited his penchant for hard work, perfection and frankness. His mother, Mildred, was the gentle head of household who made a comfortable, loving home for her husband and children. From Mildred, Howard inherited the soft heart that hid behind his often gruff exterior.
In the 1930s the Greenes began camping out at Crystal Lake in northern Michigan during summer vacations. In high school drafting class, Howard designed a small cottage, which he and Ivan built and was among the first structures on the beach after the lake was lowered in 1873. His father helped found the Crystal Lake Yacht Club, where Howard served as sailing master, receiving $75 for the work he did that summer (which included refinishing three club boats). Thus were planted the seeds of a summer habitat that now welcomes more than 60 Greene/McMillan/Brown clan members.
In 1937 Howard graduated from Shaker Heights High School and was accepted at Yale University and the College of Wooster. Financial considerations fortunately pointed him to Wooster, because there he met his future wife, Lois Jeannette Wissman, whom he married on 10 Jan. 1942. At Wooster Howard majored in physics and starred on the swimming team, where he set numerous school records for the freestyle.
Upon graduation in 1941 Howard took his first real job with BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio, working in the research department; Lois, a chemistry major, went to work at the Cleveland Clinic. As World War II heated up, Howard focused on a project of importance to the military: perfecting a device to keep ice from forming on the leading edge of airplane wings. To this end he spent winters atop Mount Washington, N.H., where winds have been clocked as high as 231 miles per hour, the highest ever recorded for a land-based weather station. During the war, Lois was comforted by knowing Howard was not fighting in Germany or the Pacific, as were his present and future brothers-in-law; however, during a postwar trip up the mountain in summertime, she was shocked by the extreme danger of wintertime skiing up and down the mountain for supplies. Ultimately, Howard was issued U.S. Patent #2,536,739 for his “Apparatus for Preventing the Accumulation of Ice Upon Surfaces,” an invention that remains a common deicer on the wings of small airplanes.
During the war, Howard and Lois welcomed two sons into their family: Ted, a now retired inventor and biotechnology entrepreneur, and Dan, who served as a naval officer and recently retired from IBM.
After the war, Howard transferred to BFGoodrich Chemicals in Cleveland and moved his family to Shaker Heights across the street from his parents. Ultimately, Howard took charge of developing an experimental fiber aimed at competing with natural wool. When Goodrich sold the program to Celanese Corp. in Charlotte, N.C., the Greenes moved south. A decade later Celanese proposed a transfer to New York City, and Howard decided it was time to leave corporate America and move to Florida where he could enjoy boating year-round. To that end, he purchased Molded Reinforced Plastics in Fort Lauderdale, building this distributor of fiberglass supplies into an important player in the boating and home building industries of Southern Florida and inventing SuperRez, a product for turning old hatch covers into beautiful tabletops. Howard liked to tell his boys, “You can succeed in any business, if you’re smart and honest!”
In 1986 he sold the business and retired to his first love: boating. Howard was happiest when he and his family were on the water. He was an enthusiastic competitor sailing C Scows on Crystal Lake, winning numerous trophies and serving as commodore of the CLYC. In Ohio his family explored the islands of Lake Erie in a 16-foot outboard; Howard’s favorite cruise in this little boat was the Trent-Severn Waterway, 240 miles of rivers, lakes and locks from the northern tip of Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. In North Carolina Howard upgraded to a 26-foot Chris-Craft that was usually docked in Lake Wiley near Charlotte, and it carried his family on cruises along the Intracoastal Waterway, the beautiful sounds protected by Cape Hatteras, as far north as the 1964 New York World’s Fair and as far south as Florida.
Howard and Lois’ ultimate dream was ocean cruising, which they achieved with their 42-foot Grand Banks trawler when it wasn’t docked at their waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale. Over the next decade they logged more than 35,000 miles in DILLY, passing through 22 countries from Trinidad off South America to Newfoundland, through the Great Lakes, and down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Twice they traveled by boat from Florida up the East Coast and into Lake Michigan, summering in Betsie Bay near Crystal Lake, then returning downriver into the Gulf of Mexico.
In the service of boating, Howard was a past rear commander in the U.S. Power Squadrons, where he achieved the grade of Senior Navigator and was awarded 43 merit marks during his 66 years as a member.
He served as president of the Marine Industries Association of Southern Florida, playing a role in launching the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show which now claims to be the largest boat show in the world. Howard was active in the Lauderdale Yacht Club, and he and Lois enjoyed ocean cruises with the LYC Weasels in DILLY and aboard ships. Howard could not resist buying old wooden Chris-Craft speedboats in need of loving care, and one was always in some state of restoration in his Crystal Lake barn, right alongside his spotless 1928 Ford Model A.
Thus ends the life of a good man whose legacy has improved the world for future generations. Howard was a hard-working, honest, self-reliant, intelligent man who could tackle any challenge facing him with a smile. He eschewed diplomacy in favor of getting to the point and saying things the way he saw them, and more often than not he was right. He taught his children and grandchildren the value of ethics, industry and doing things right the first time, principles that have served the family well.
Howard’s family will miss him, but we will celebrate a life well lived!