Clark County’s first administrator, W. Darrell Howard, passes away at 79

He served as Clark County administrator from 1972 to 2010

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

A man who served Clark County for over 40 years and known for his devotion to the community passed away on Thursday from complications of Alzheimer’s, a disease he battled for ten years.

W. Darrell Howard was 79 and is remembered as a beloved father and grandfather to his daughter Blythe Howard-Chou and his grand daughter Delia Claire Chou.

Howard also dedicated a large portion of his life to public service, in which he served Clark County for a total of 46 years. His first role for county government was with the Regional Planning Commission in 1964.

From there he worked his way up to Clark County Development Director in 1972 before landing the position as the county’s first administrator later that year. He would remain in that role until his retirement in 2010 due to Alzheimer’s.

As county administrator, Howard was involved in merging the county and city health and park districts as well as in the development of several industrial parks and economic and building projects.

Former County Commissioner John Detrick, who worked with Howard for 16 years, remembers him as someone who was highly innovative and was key in saving tax payer money while spurring development in the area.

“He was one in a million and was very creative in what he did. He loved the community and put them first,” Detrick said of Howard on Friday.

Howard was also known for his kind easy going personality and willingness to level with those he interacted with on a daily basis.

“He treated you like a human being. He was a great boss to have. But he never felt like one,” Detrick said.

Howard was not originally from Clark County. He was born and raised in Blairsville, Pennsylvania before joining the United States Air Force, in which he was trained as a medic.

While in the service, he would meet his wife of 50-years, Dianne Howard, a Clark County native who passed away in 2017.

In addition to serving in the military and in county government, Howard was active on the Board of United Senior Services, was a volunteer with the Springfield Rotary Club and was a long time member of the First Christian Church in Springfield.

“Almost everyone who met my dad would agree that he was a very kind and friendly person. He was not a super extroverted person. He just liked getting to meet people. He was curious about their stories and what they did,” said his daughter Howard-Chou.

A statement from the Clark County Commission on Friday said that Howard “spent his life working to make (the county) a better place and always did it with a smile on his face. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Howard’s family said that a memorial service will be held for him at a later date due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, donations in his honor can be made to the Pathways Center for Alzheimer’s Care at the Ohio Masonic Home Foundation in benefit of the Springfield Masonic Community Pathways Building 2655 West National Road, Springfield, OH 45504.

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