Douglas Howlett; ran Brooklawn's school

Posted: April 15, 2010

Douglas W. Howlett, 65, of Somerdale, a former superintendent of the Brooklawn School District who was involved with the National Ski Patrol locally and nationally, died of complications from prostate cancer Friday, April 9, at Virtua Marlton.

His devotion to passing on knowledge to help others better themselves was evident in his everyday life, from his career as a superintendent to his seasonal hobbies, skiing and sailing.

Mr. Howlett was "a teacher at heart," said his wife, Cheri.

While completing his doctorate in education at Temple University, Mr. Howlett was hired in 1975 as principal and superintendent of Alice Costello Elementary School, the only school in the Brooklawn district.

He quickly became known for smart leadership in managing the district's budget and for working hard on teachers' contracts, former School Board President Kathleen Maass said.

Mr. Howlett's down-to-earth personality allowed him to be strict on policies and have a take-charge attitude that people could appreciate, Maass said.

"He trained the school board secretaries himself, and there were quite a few of them," she said.

As superintendent, he developed special-education and child-study team services, and implemented a program for gifted and talented students.

A technology geek for most of his life - he owned a video camera and an early cell phone - Mr. Howlett planned, installed, and maintained the school's computers and computer lab.

His last major project before retiring in 1999 was renovation of the school, which had been built in the 1920s.

"The school was so small and really needed to be renovated, so that's what kept him going," his wife said.

After retiring from Brooklawn, Mr. Howler worked as the director of the Gloucester County Educational Technology Training Center until 2001.

He also became assistant patrol director with the National Ski Patrol at Spring Mountain ski resort in Schwenksville, where he had been a ski-patrol volunteer since 1987.

He worked there from early morning to late night at least five days a week, aiding skiers or training other instructors, patrol director Hank Jansen said.

In 2008, Mr. Howler was appointed national program director of instructor development. He held that post until he died.

"He had the knowledge, and he had the skills," Jansen said.

He also was an American Red Cross first-aid instructor and worked during summers as a sailing instructor at the Cooper River Yacht Club.

Until recently, Mr. Howlett also taught computer science at Camden County College and worked as a computer consultant.

He was born in Glen Ridge, Essex County, and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1966, he received a bachelor's degree in education and history from Michigan State University and worked for a year at a middle school in Ohio before following his new girlfriend, Cheri Illy, to Cherry Hill.

Mr. Howlett landed a job at Carusi Junior High School teaching social studies in 1968, and he married in 1970. That year, he joined the National Ski Patrol, volunteering at Ski Mountain in Pine Hill until its closing in 1987.

He received his master's degree in education administration in 1971 and his doctorate in education in 1976, both from Temple.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Howlett is survived by daughters Jenny Dyer and Mandy Marrella, a brother, and a sister.

A memorial service was held Monday, April 12.

Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.

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