Howard Cowles, L18517, attended dozens of FMCA international conventions, where he encouraged thousands of association members to swing their partners. For approximately 30 years, the Michigan native and World War II veteran led do-si-dos and promenades as he called square dances, line dances, and round dances at FMCA gatherings.
Howard, who split his time between homes in Michigan and Florida, died September 2, 2014.
He was 90.
As a caller, “He had a style that went over well with people,” said his stepson, Emery Stora, F10324. “He was extremely well received, and he drew large crowds.”
Howard was known as “the singing square dance caller,” because his call had, as Mr. Stora said, “a singing patter to it.” But it wasn’t just his dance-calling style that people liked. “He was very personable, and he enjoyed people. He always had a smile,” Mr. Stora added. Howard called dances at FMCA events until the mid-2000s.
Howard also was an entrepreneur. He owned a service station and a hardware store in Michigan before taking a job as a salesman for an electric utility.
He began calling dances long before he was cruising the country in a motorhome. It wasn’t until Mr. Stora purchased a coach in 1973 that Howard decided to follow suit a few years later. He joined FMCA in 1976 and, over the years, he and his wife, Juanita, motored to 48 states, Mr. Stora said. Juanita died in 2013.
As much as Howard enjoyed traveling in his motorhome, what stood out was a trip he took by airplane with other military veterans in November 2013. They were guests of Honor Flight, a nonprofit group that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., for free to see the national war memorials.
“This is one of the most important trips of my life,” he told a Florida newspaper. “I had been too busy with life to talk about my service, but in the last few years, as so many (WWII) veterans and my wife passed away, I wanted my family to know about me.”
Howard was an Army sergeant during the war. He was one of only a few men in his platoon to survive the Battle of the Bulge, which was fought in brutally cold conditions. He suffered frostbite in his feet, which led to recurring problems. A hand grenade that exploded nearby affected his hearing in one ear for the rest of his life.
In addition to his stepson, Howard is survived by a daughter, Diane Butler; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions can be made to St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, 128 Cedar St., Wayland, MI 49348.