WEST MONROE, LA. — Alton Howard, whose hymnals sold more than 3 million copies and are the mainstay for many congregations all over the world, died Sunday. He was 81. Funeral services were conducted Tuesday at the White’s Ferry Road church, where Howard was a founding member and served as an elder for more than 40 years. Howard served in the 9th Air Force during World War II as a radio gunner on a B-26 bomber and flew 12 missions over Germany. In 1946, he and his brother, W.L Howard, founded Howard Brothers Jewelers. In 1959, they founded Howard Brothers Discount Stores and Mid-South Development Co. In 1969, he started Howard Publishing Co. and, along with his son, John, started Super Saver Wholesale Warehouse Club in 1984. “He was a true entrepreneur who was willing to take a risk,” John Howard told The News Star in Monroe. “He was smart enough to know what were good risks and what weren’t.
“He had his share of losing propositions, but he had a pretty good batting average.”
In addition, in 1967, he opened Camp Ch-Yo-Ca, a Christian youth camp, which continued until 2004. He also developed several subdivisions and owned an insurance company, several restaurants, men’s and ladies clothing stores, oil and gas operations and a music business.
An avid writer and musician, he wrote a number of books and gospel songs that are still sung today and have been recorded by various music artists.
He served as an elder at the White’s Ferry Road church from 1963-2004, when his health no longer allowed him to serve. His love for the work there continued until his last days when he wanted to know how the church was doing. Through the church, he was instrumental in beginning “World Radio,” an international radio ministry that broadcasts the gospel of Jesus in native languages around the world.
Relatives and friends said they will remember him as a faithful servant of God, a loyal and trusted employer, and an amazing, wonderful husband, father and “Papaw” to his family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to World Radio or the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Jean Howard; his son, John Howard and his wife, Chrys; his daughter Mary Howard Owen and her husband, Mac; his daughter, Janice Howard Owen and her husband, David; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents, Hardy and Corrine Howard; his brothers, V.E. Howard, W.L. (Jack) Howard, Kelton Howard; and his sisters, Euphra Terry and Cassyle McMurry.
Nov. 1, 2006