Edgar Allen Howard, 70, ward leader, city commissioner and veterans' worker

Howard
Howard
Posted: February 12, 2014

BACK IN 1995, Dwight Evans had had enough of dealing with the ceaseless demands of residents of the 10th Ward in West Oak Lane, where he was ward leader.

At least that was what some political observers thought. Evans had made it clear that the daily grind of dealing with the picky details of constituent laments, from pot holes to garbage collection, had gotten old, and he decided to call it quits in September 1995.

His successor, Edgar Allen Howard, had no such qualms. Dealing with people's problems was what he always felt he was born to do.

"He helped everyone," his son Bruce said. "He was always present. He always looked to help people."

Edgar Howard, who was the Democratic leader of the voter-rich 10th Ward, a City Commissioner, director of the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission and an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, died of heart failure Friday, a day before his 71st birthday. He lived in Mount Airy.

Edgar was on Dwight Evans' staff when Evans was elected a state representative, and was serving his fifth term as ward leader at his death.

He was elected to the City Commission, which supervises elections, in 2003. He concentrated on voter education, explaining the machinations of city politics. He served until 2007, when he was defeated in the primary by Anthony Clark.

After he left office, City Council President Anna Verna appointed him director of the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission.

Although the appointment was controversial - veterans' organizations thought the job should have gone to someone with more experience with vets - the position was right down Edgar's alley.

He was once again called on to help people, this time veterans, for whom he worked hard to see that they got the benefits due to them. And, after all, he was a veteran himself.

Edgar was born and raised in Germantown and graduated from Germantown High School. He attended the Community College of Philadelphia as part of the college's "Upward Bound" program for needy youth.

He enlisted in the Army in 1961 in the Vietnam War era and served stateside. After his discharge in 1964, he joined the Pennsylvania National Guard and served as a medical platoon sergeant.

Edgar went to work in 1965 for the Boeing Aircraft Co. He was elected a union shop steward and served on the bargaining committee. He left Boeing in 1991.

In 1980, he was elected a Democratic committeeman in the 26th Division of the 10th Ward, and joined Dwight Evans' staff as manager of Evans' Champlost Avenue office.

Edgar's political philosophy was that peoples' lives are controlled by politics from "womb to tomb," his family said.

"You're not counted until a bureaucrat signs your birth certificate and you don't pass out of this world until a bureaucrat signs off," he was quoted by his family as saying.

He married Deonne R. New in 2004. Besides his wife and his son Bruce, he is survived by another son, Garrett Turner, and four grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. Feb. 19 at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, 230 W. Coulter St. Friends may call at 8 a.m. Burial will be in the Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.

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