Martha Jane Richey Howard, 86, of Texarkana, Arkansas, died Monday, November 22, 2021, at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences after a brief illness.
Mrs. Howard was born August 8, 1935, in Wattensaw, Arkansas, and was retired after many wonderful years of teaching English at Arkansas High School and Texarkana College (and a lifelong sideline in caring for eccentric cats).
Martha’s childhood on a small family farm in 1930s rural Arkansas cultivated in her a strong faith and a love of family, flowers, and all the world’s furry, four-footed creatures. A young girl’s passion for reading set her path in life: nurturing in other young people a delight and reverence for the magic and power of the written word.
After graduating from Lonoke High School, Martha earned degrees from Henderson State University and the University of Arkansas and, barely 21 years old herself, started teaching English to teenagers.
In a career spanning three-plus decades, she introduced hundreds of students to great works of literature (and Jane Austen, because it was required), and finer points of grammar. As adviser for the Arkansas High student newspaper in the 80s and 90s, she nurtured a generation of student-journalists and – to her own surprise – steered The Razorback into the computer age. In retirement, she continued to run a free grammar-advice service, clarifying arcane points of syntax and usage (and settling more than one squabble) for her offspring and former students.
After she left the classroom, Martha enjoyed traveling in the US and abroad with Wilbur and her kids; talking over good reads with her book club; serving on the Friends of the Texarkana Public Library board and volunteering at the Friends Bookstore; hanging out with her ‘therapy cat’, Jezzie; visiting with friends; and, always, reading. She could finish a book before most people finished the first chapter, and she devoured everything from John Steinbeck to John Grisham.
She was funny and smart and kind and curious about the world.
She loved well and was well-loved in return.
She will be missed desperately and remembered fondly.
Martha was preceded in death by her parents, John and Nellie Richey; her beloved aunt (and second mother) Gladys Tomlinson; sisters Emma Lee “Lucy” Spencer and Polly Anna Trickey; brothers-in-law Elden Spencer, Fred Howard Jr. and William “Dub” Trickey; nephew Fred Howard III; and niece Phyllis Lynn Sieroslawski.
She is survived by her devoted husband of 63 years, Wilbur; daughter Heather and wife Penny of London, UK; son John and partner Ramin of London, UK; sister-in-law Alice Howard of Texarkana, Texas; nephews Keith Larey of Sherman, Texas, and Richard Howard of Wake Village, Texas; nieces Teresa Norton of Tyler, Texas, and Dinecia Zeps of Des Arc, Ark.; fellow book-lovers and confidantes of many decades Betty Jane Thornton, Shashi Krishna, Linda Cogbill and Sarah Meredith; her kind, devoted caregiver, Darlena Brown; and more friends and former students than will fit in this space.
Visitation will be 1-2 p.m. Saturday, November 27, 2021, at Texarkana Funeral Home, 3515 Texas Blvd., followed by funeral services at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Memorial Gardens. The family invites you to visit them at their home following the burial.
Online registration is at www.texarkanafuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations go to Texarkana Humane Society: www.texarkanahumanesociety.org or P. O. Box 5020, Texarkana, TX 75505; or the Friends of the Texarkana Public Library: 600 West Third St., Texarkana, TX 75501, (903) 794 2149.