By Joe Southern
Former State Rep. Charlie Howard, the District 26 representative who amassed a strong conservative voting record in the Legislature and helped secure funds to widen Highway 59 in Fort Bend County during his 18 years in office, passed away May 2 at the age of 74.
Howard served as Sugar Land’s representative in the Legislature from 1995 to 2013. He had battled cancer and retired from public office due to “lingering health issues.” He was buried Friday in the State Cemetery and a memorial service was held Saturday at Sugar Creek Baptist Church.
Last week several colleagues and elected officials shared their thoughts, recalling Howard as a strong conservative Christian and family man who was dedicated to serving his community.
“Charlie Howard was my dear friend and one who always stood strong for his Christian conservative values. As my predecessor, he helped me understand the legislative process and supported me in my work in each Session,” said Rep. Rick Miller. “He was a fine and honorable man who always made his wife and family a priority. It was a true honor to know him and to take his place in the Texas House of Representatives.”
“Charlie was a man of faith and family above all else. His work contributed to the growth and success of the City of Sugar Land and he represented the constituents of District 26 honorably,” said State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-District 17.
“Charlie Howard was a great conservative who fought hard for Texas and Texans,” said Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-District 85.
Praise even came from across the political aisle.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Howard family on the loss of my friend Charlie Howard. Charlie was a proud Christian man that loved his family. I will never forget the advice that Charlie gave to me shortly after my election. His legacy of leadership in the Sugar Land and Fort Bend area will never be forgotten,” said Ron Reynolds, D-District 27.
Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert praised Howard for the impact he had on the county.
“Charlie Howard was a son of the South, an Auburn engineering and the Harvard graduate School of Business graduate, who came to Texas late, but made it his home. He left his mark in many places, but especially in First Colony with Sugar Land Properties and in the Texas Legislature where he represented Sugar Land and Fort Bend County for over two decades. He will be remembered.”
Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman and his wife Nancy issued a statement about Howard’s passing.
“On May 2, 2017 the Sugar Land community lost our friend, Charlie Howard. He will be remembered for his many contributions to the master-planned community of First Colony, for the many commercial projects that he and Charlie Turner developed as Howard Turner, and for his passion and commitment to the Republican Party of Fort Bend County.
Charlie served the citizens of District 26 as our State Representative for seventeen years where he helped secure funds to expand U.S. Highway 59 through Sugar Land and Fort Bend County. We will keep his wife Jo and his family in our thoughts and prayers as we celebrate his life,” they said.
Howard began his 18-year career in the Texas House of Representatives when he defeated incumbent Republican Jim Tallas in the primaries while running, ironically, on a platform calling for term limits. He won election to the District 26 seat nine times, often facing little or no opposition.
According to a report in the Texas Tribune at the time Howard announced his retirement, “Rep. Howard and his wife, Jo, came to Houston in 1970 from Alabama where they had both worked on the Apollo program, which landed the first man on the moon. Charlie, an electrical engineer, was a member of the team that developed the first broadband data system to handle the massive data transmissions to and from the spacecraft and the NASA facilities.
“After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, he joined Gerald D. Hines Interests, where he helped develop First Colony in Sugar Land. Charlie served his community in many capacities, including President of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and founding director of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council, before being elected to the State Legislature as a Republican in 1994. As a respected member of the legislature, Rep. Howard passed many bills specifically enhancing the lives of his constituents. To mention a few of such bills would include bringing the University of Houston to Sugar Land, establishing the Fort Bend Technical Center with Wharton Junior College, and helping Sugar Land be the best FOB Airport in the country. He worked with integrity with other officials to bring about the expansion of Hwy. 59, Hwy. 6, and Hwy. 90A.”