Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Neighborhood activist Charles Howard dies

Elected representatives of the 26th largest city in the United States bowed their heads in tribute Monday to a DU graduate who worked tirelessly to make Denver a better place to live.

Charles R. Howard (BA ’52) died Nov. 25 at Exempla Lutheran Hospice in Wheat Ridge after a long illness. He was 75.

“He was an active participant in so many public processes,” Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt said Nov. 26 after asking for a moment of silence during the City Council meeting. “He was always a voice of intelligence and reason and he will be sorely missed.”

Nevitt’s comments were part of a cascade of expressions from community activists and members of the DU family alike. These included 2007 Evans Award winner Barry Hirschfeld, who worked with Howard to secure community support for Hirschfeld’s Asbury Court development and who visited him in his final hours, and Neil Krauss, DU community liaison, who described Howard as “a wonderful person who cared deeply for the neighborhood.”

Katie Fisher, former president of the West University Community Association, said Howard was a “quiet force” in his role as second in command on the board.

“When he spoke, you listened,” she said. “He was a peacemaker. He was somebody who looked for the common good. He always said, ‘We can find the compromise; there’s always a solution.’”

In addition to WUCA, Howard was vice-chair of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, an umbrella group of neighborhood organizations, and the Buchtel Boulevard Coalition, which he co-founded and which effectively worked for landscaping and sidewalk improvements.

Among Howard’s favorite projects was the Dollar Dictionary Drive, a program that raises money to annually provide a paperback dictionary and thesaurus to about 8,000 third-graders in Denver Public Schools.

“He was a very avid supporter,” said drive co-chair Steve Nissen.

Other activists saw Howard as a good listener who “could see both sides” and a tireless volunteer who brought humor and willingness to shoulder the unglamorous aspects of whatever project he worked on.

“He gave of his time and his experience,” said WUCA board member Hayden Hirschfeld. “I learned from Charles by example.”

Howard is survived by a wife, Judy Shaul, and two adult children.

No funeral or memorial service has been announced.

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