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Wanda Howard

Wanda E. Howard (Lojko)

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
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Obituary

Wanda Lojko Howard, a former columnist for The Providence Journal who—for more than a decade—penned the “Silver Network” column that brought needed attention to senior and elderly issues before it became trendy to grow old with vigor, died peacefully Sunday, March 15, at her home in Bristol, Rhode Island, surrounded by her family. She was 95.

Mrs. Howard is the widow of Lawrence M. Howard, a former associate managing editor of The Providence Journal-Bulletin who died of a heart attack in 1985 in the former Soviet Union while on a trip with a delegation of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors who were being hosted by the Union of Soviet Journalists. She learned of her husband’s death on the eve of traveling to Yerevan, Armenia, to join her husband.

A longtime advocate for equality and women’s rights in the workplace and in life, and someone who found a passion in wordsmithing great stories, Mrs. Howard joined the Associated Press in Boston in the 1940s as a clerk. Her boss told her that she needed more experience in the newsroom and in the field to finetune her craft as a reporter, and she ventured to the Rutland Herald in Vermont to pursue her passion.

There, she met her future husband, who served as city editor and acting managing editor at the newspaper, and she later put her career on pause to raise her family. Daughter Deborah, and son, Lawrence Jr., were born in Rutland, Vermont, before the growing family moved to Rhode Island in 1954 as Mr. Howard began his career at the Journal-Bulletin as a reporter. Another son, Peter, joined the clan as the family settled into their new home in the Edgewood section of the city of Cranston.

While Mrs. Howard worked to raise the family and support her husband’s career, she continued to look for opportunities that would shape the learning experiences of her children, who, as junior high and high school students worked with professors at the University of Rhode Island to deliver impressive and stunning science projects that received state and national recognition.

In the late 1960s, Mrs. Howard was part of the inaugural class of the University of Rhode Island’s adult extension program on the Providence campus, working long hours late at night after the children were asleep to complete her undergraduate degree in English. It was a profoundly proud moment when her family watched her march in the graduation ceremony in Kingston, Rhode Island, wearing her cap and gown. She went on to earn a Master’s of English degree from URI, and developed a lifelong friendship with the focus of her dissertation—James E. Schevill, the American poet and playwright and Brown University professor who authored volumes of poetry and dozens of plays, including Lovecraft’s Follies that chronicled the life of Rhode Island horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.

Wanda Emilia Lojko was born on Dec. 22, 1924 in Nashua, New Hampshire, the daughter of Polish immigrants who brought their love of farming and prowess of real estate speculation to the Granite State. After graduating high school, the young woman tried her hand working as a nurse, which was her mother’s dream, but it did not fulfill her daughter’s ambition to write the first chapter of history in the grey pages of daily newspapers. After earning her degrees from URI, Mrs. Howard briefly taught English at what was then Bryant College in Smithfield before joining the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, where she wrote and edited the council’s newsletter and managed media relations.

About a year after her husband’s death, Mrs. Howard relocated from Edgewood to Bristol and released the pause button on her newspaper career and began the “Silver Network” column for the Journal-Bulletin. A meticulous writer who also penned poetry to stretch the dimensions of the use of language, she touched upon a plethora of issues important to an aging population, including health care, Alzheimer’s disease, and financial planning, often introducing unique and intriguing subject-matter experts to the newspaper’s audiences. She continued providing news and information about elderly issues to Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts readers for nearly 15 years, ending her tenure shortly after a 2001 car accident where she suffered serious injury.

Mrs. Howard recovered from her injuries and lived independently for years, often seen driving around the state in her Honda Accord and Volvo sedan emblazoned with the vanity plate, “WRITE.”

Mrs. Howard is survived by her three children, Deborah Howard Cornwall and her husband, Stephen P. Cornwall, of Bristol, Rhode Island; Lawrence M. Howard Jr., of Bristol, Rhode Island, and his late wife, Veronica Howard; and Peter E. Howard, a former reporter at The Providence Journal, and his wife, Ann B. Dougherty, a former reporter and anchor at WLNE-TV, of Largo, Florida; and six grandchildren: Kristen Cornwall Stanton of Elkridge, Maryland; Alexandra Cornwall of Tacoma, Washington; Ian Howard of Bristol, Rhode Island; Kelsey Dougherty Howard of Long Island City, New York; Meggie Dougherty Howard of Washington, D.C. and Largo, Florida; and Liam Dougherty Howard of Largo, Florida; and one great-grandson, Samuel Wyatt Stanton of Elkridge, Maryland.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, at Smith Funeral & Memorial Services, 8 Schoolhouse Road, Warren, Rhode Island, to be followed by a graveside service at St. Columba Cemetery in Middletown, Rhode Island. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Rhode Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.www.alz.org/ri
www.wjsmithfh.com
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  • Visitation

    March 18, 2020 | 9:00am - 10:00am
    When
    March 18, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
    Location
    Smith Funeral and Memorial Services
    Address
    8 Schoolhouse Road
    Warren, Rhode Island 02885
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    March 18, 2020 | 10:00am
    When
    March 18, 2020 10:00am
    Location
    Smith Funeral and Memorial Services
    Address
    8 Schoolhouse Road
    Warren, Rhode Island 02885
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    March 18, 2020 | 11:30am
    When
    March 18, 2020 11:30am
    Location
    St. Columba Cemetery
    Address
    465 Browns Lane
    Middletown, Rhode Island 02842
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

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