Edgar Howard, political leader

Edgar A. Howard Jr.
Edgar A. Howard Jr.
Posted: February 12, 2014

Edgar Allen Howard Jr., 70, a longtime political activist, committeeman, and ward leader in Northwest Philadelphia, and a former city commissioner, died Friday, Feb. 7, of heart failure at Einstein Medical Center.

Mr. Howard also served as director of Philadelphia's Veterans Advisory Committee, a position to which he was appointed in 2008 and that he held at the time of his death.

A longtime resident of the West Oak Lane section, Mr. Howard had worked closely with State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) since the 1970s. He had lived in Mount Airy for about the last 10 years.

He helped Evans get elected as a state representative in 1980, and served as office director and manager at Evans' Champlost Avenue office during the 1990s.

Evans hailed Mr. Howard as a dedicated community activist and organizer in West Oak Lane.

"We were good friends, political friends," Evans said. "He was a good person for this community in terms of block organizing and all kinds of events."

Mr. Howard was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 8, 1943, the son of Edgar and Bonnie Lynn Howard. He graduated from Germantown High School in 1961.

Later that year, Mr. Howard joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and other domestic locations. He earned the rank of sergeant E5.

After his discharge in 1964, he served in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

In 1965, Mr. Howard joined the Boeing Co., where he worked on building aircraft until 1991, said his niece, Terri Grantham-Peebles.

Mr. Howard became active in politics in the 1970s. In 1980, he was elected the committee person for the 10th Ward, 26th Division.

He was elected ward leader in 1994, a post previously held by Evans. Mr. Howard was reelected to his fifth term in 2010 and held the post when he died.

Mr. Howard "loved politics, and he loved listening to people," Evans said. "He was always trying to do something for the people."

Mr. Howard's specialties were getting out the vote and voter education, his niece said. "It was something he was very passionate and emphatic about," she said.

When Mr. Howard and Evans took over the ward, voter turnout was relatively low, Grantham-Peebles said, but "they turned it into one of the highest-voting wards in the city."

She said Mr. Howard worked closely with Evans in revitalizing the Ogontz Avenue corridor in West Oak Lane.

Mr. Howard was elected a city commissioner in 2003 and served through 2007.

Mr. Howard was married four times. He is survived by his wife, Deonne R. New; daughter Garnet Turner; son Bruce; four grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.

A viewing will be from 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, West Location, 230 W. Coulter St., Philadelphia. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Washington Crossing Military Cemetery, Newtown.



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