Howie Stillman died in 1986 at the age of 23 after a four-year battle with Lymphoma but not before touching and impacting many lives. Howie remained optimistic and committed to his goal of becoming a journalist, attending classes at The University of Wisconsin-Madison and The University of Minnesota. He was a leader in various high school and college youth groups. Howie was an active member of United Synagogue Youth (USY) during his high school years serving as the Vice President of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation chapter, as well as the Midwest Region.
In Howie’s eulogy, Rabbi Barry Cytron of Adath said Howie, “was a genuine friend of the kids and continued to be an absolutely exceptional friend to everyone who touched him.” Rabbi Cytron went on to say that Howie participated in all the synagogue plays and often sang in the barbershop quartet. Howie graduated from Hopkins Eisenhower High School in 1980. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was president of his dormitory during his sophomore year and earned the dorm’s Spirit of Service Award. In 1984 Howie worked as an intern at the Twin Cities Reader. “He did a lot of people stories,” editor Deborah Hopp was quoted as saying. “He was always very interested in the human aspect of everything whether it was a City Council issue or a parks issue. He was very serious about journalism and his work.”
Liba (Howie's mother) relayed that last year she had a conversation with one of Howie’s best friends. I suspect there were many best friends, because that is what he was like. This special friend said to Liba and Tom that he and Howie would have lunch every day at the Memorial Union on campus, that they had a standing 12:00 appointment. Except that no matter what the day, Howie was always late. Always, not by design, not even his fault as it turned out. Howie came later everyday for a simple reason, because it would take him so long to cross campus and get to the Union. At every corner of that campus, Howie would be stopped by this friend and corralled by that one who wanted to speak, one who just needed a second to ask a question or get some advice, or just a hug. And, said this friend, he ultimately came to enjoy standing at the doors to the Union, and watching Howie be late. He said that it felt good to see how Howie was wanted and needed by so many, that there was a sense of pride in waiting for this
exceptional friend so in touch with other people’s lives.
A poem kept in the front of Howie’s journal
Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your won. To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
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