Ester Holder Johnson Howard, 96, of Buies Creek, died on Friday, March 11. A memorial service celebrating her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 11, 2022, at the Robert and Anna Gardner Butler Chapel on the campus of Campbell University. Interment will follow in Spring Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery.
A native of Harnett County, Mrs. Howard was the daughter of the late Wade Hampton Holder, Sr. and Flora Jane Stewart Holder. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Paul Johnson, and her second husband, Wilson Howard, as well as five sisters and four brothers. She is survived by four step-children: Gwen Temple (David) of North Wilkesboro; Sue Perkins (Bill) of Fayetteville; Sandra West (Jerry) of Wilmington, and Buddy Howard of Fayetteville.
A 1944 graduate of Campbell Junior College, Howard earned a bachelor’s degree from Meredith College and a Master of Education in Supervision and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She continued her post-graduate studies at North Carolina State University, Duke University, and East Carolina University.
Mrs. Howard’s career as an educator spanned 43 years. A 20-year veteran of the classroom, she employed that experience and knowledge in her role as supervisor of Elementary Education for Harnett County from 1966-1989.
As a dedicated Campbell University alumna, Mrs. Howard has served as a member of the Board of Trustees, the Presidential Board of Advisors, and as president of the Harnett County Loyalty Campaign. She has established three scholarships at Campbell and has been a donor to multiple capital campaigns, including the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine, the D. Rich Hall renovation, the Wiggins Memorial Library renovation, the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center, the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, the Folwell Fountain and Garden, and the Anna Gardner and Robert B. Butler Chapel.
In 1994, Mrs. Howard was named a Distinguished Alumna of Campbell, and she received the prestigious Presidential Medallion in 2000. She was an honored recipient of the Campbell University School of Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the NC Baptist Heritage Award.
Mrs. Howard was an active member in the greater Harnett County community, where she has served as president of the Cape Fear Friends of the Fine Arts Executive Committee and president of Friendly Homemakers, an organization under the direction of the state Cooperative Extension Agency.
Mrs. Howard was named Woman of Distinction by the Gamma Pi Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, a sorority that recognizes outstanding educators, and she holds life memberships in the Harnett County Friends of the Library, the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, the North Carolina Association of Educators, the Campbell University Friends of the Library,
Friends of Education, and the Friends of the Fine Arts. She was also a past president of the Buies Creek Woman’s Club, the Garden Club, and the Buies Creek Book Review.
Mrs. Howard was a member of Memorial Baptist Church in Buies Creek where she faithfully served in the Chancel Choir, with the Welcome Committee, the Music Committee, and Chairwoman of the Build the Fellowship Hall Committee.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Ester Holder Johnson Howard may be sent to: Ester H. Howard Research Fellows program at Campbell University, P.O. Box 116, Buies Creek, NC 27506.
In accordance with current North Carolina COVID-19 guidelines, the funeral home requests that everyone in attendance practice social distancing and wear a face covering.