Friday, September 18, 2020

Huston Eugene “Bill” Howard

Huston Eugene “Bill” Howard, 85, of Cherry Valley, surrendered to his battle with the COVID-19 virus at his nursing home in Kankakee, Illinois on Monday, April 20, 2020. 

He was born March 8, 1935, in Symsonia, Kentucky, the son of Charles Howard and Sarah “Pat” Howard as the youngest of three children. 

Bill married Nellie Mae Sheffer on July 29, 1958, at Black Grove Baptist Church in Clay, KY. 

Bill graduated from Goreville High School in 1953. 

After graduation, he worked in a factory in Elgin where they made toasters. He served in the Navy as a pipefitter from 1954-58 and then in the reserves until his honorable discharge in 1962. He earned a BS and an MS in Industrial Education from Murray State University in 1962 and 1963 respectively. 

They moved to Rockford, IL, and in 1978 built their new home in Cherry Valley, IL. 

Bill was an industrial arts teacher at Roosevelt Junior High School, East High School, Rockford Area Vocational Center (later named Rockford Area Career Center), and Auburn High School. While at Auburn High School he was named Vocational Teacher of the Year for District 211. He retired from teaching in 1993. 

Bill was a prolific and talented woodworker. He had a small antique business as a hobby where he collected, refinished, and sold many antiques.

Bill and Nellie enjoyed traveling throughout their lifetimes. They visited all 50 states, several Canadian Provinces, and Cancun Mexico. Bill and Nellie valued family relationships and developed special bonds with nieces and nephews and their children. 

Though the extended family is spread across the United States, Bill and Nellie were always present for births, graduations, dance recitals, soccer games, and school events, as they were for their own three grandchildren. Family was always part of vacations and retirement travel stops. The extended family was loved as much as the immediate family. He was known for his love, generosity and fun-loving pranks.

Bill is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Debra Howard, of Bourbonnais, IL; three grandchildren, Wesley Howard of Grand Rapids, MI, Jenna Howard of Waco, TX, and Kendall Howard of Bourbonnais, IL; his sister-in-law Helen Hill of Morganfield, KY; a brother-in-law and sister-in-law Guy and Lois Sheffer of Mount Vernon, IN; and many dearly loved nieces and nephews and their children.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 53 years, Nellie, his sister and brother-in-law, Stella Marie Harris and Earl Harris of Lincoln, IL; his sister Evelyn Marie Howard of Goreville, IL; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Harold and June Cherry of Sterling, IL; his sister-in-law Lucy Spiceland of Muscle Shoals, AL; and his brother-in-law Jackie Spiceland of Murray, KY.

Bill had missed his wife ever since her passing in 2011 and was anxious to see her again.

Due to the current public health crisis, a private service will be held for the family at Arlington Memorial Cemetery, Friday, April 24. A memorial and celebration of life service will be planned for a later date.

Arrangements by Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais. 815-932-1214

Please sign his guestbook at

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