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John Elmer Howe Jr. died on May 25, 2024, at his home in Palm Springs, California, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer just four weeks earlier. In typical John fashion, he accepted the news with grace and chose to seek only palliative care. He began to arrange his remaining affairs and say goodbye to family and friends.

John was born on June 29, 1942 in Hamlet, the eldest son of the late John Elmer Howe Sr. and the late Myrtle Louise Shuford Howe.

He graduated from Hamlet High School and received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1965. During his senior year at Carolina, John served as editor of the UNC yearbook, the Yackety Yack.

Shortly after graduating, John moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as an accountant for General Motors. But California called him and in 1967 John moved to San Francisco where he began his very successful career at Kaiser Permanente. He held numerous accounting positions at Kaiser and was senior project manager for payroll at Kaiser Permanente at the time of his retirement in 1999.

In California, he built a wonderful family of friends who adored him. John loved entertaining guests at his home in San Francisco, and later, in 2003, when he moved to Palm Springs, California, John purchased the home formerly owned by movie star Loretta Young. In 2004, following changes to marriage laws in California, John married William (Will) Brown Williford III, his partner of 38 years. John and Will regularly visited John’s parents, brothers, other family members and friends on the East Coast.

John and Will were well-known hosts known for their Southern hospitality, and their Palm Springs home served as the venue for lavish parties and exquisitely decorated fundraisers for cancer, HIV-AIDS, and many other charities. John said of his decorating skills, “It’s not finished until it’s over the top.”

John also had a passion for travel, and the hot desert summers in Palm Springs provided a perfect time. He often accompanied friends on three separate six-month world tours, where he enjoyed the elegant decor and black tie style he loved aboard Cunard’s Queen ships. John continued to fill his bucket list with driving adventures to every U.S. capital and train excursions across Canada and along the California coast. In many ways, John’s life of adventure was one of grace, overflowing with friends, laughter and love.

John was preceded in death by his husband Will Williford III in 2017, his brothers Alan Massey Howe in 2010 and Michael Shuford Howe in 2020.

In 2021, John met Rodrigo Sampaio Krugner. For the past four years, John and Rodrigo have traveled the world together and had new experiences. For John, this was no longer a journey of life that he could take alone.

John is survived by his sister-in-law, Gay Phifer Howe of Wilmington, his nieces Yve Shuford Howe of Wilmington and Alana Clark-Howe (Emily Clark-Howe) and her daughters Maeve Clark-Howe and Tessa Clark-Howe of Brooklyn, New York, and numerous cousins.

John’s family and friends extend special thanks to the hospice and caregivers at Caring Hearts Premier Homecare – Stephen, Marlin, Rosa, Ody, Dean and Krissy – who provided so much comfort and love to John during his time of need.

John will be laid to rest on August 7, 2024 at 11 a.m. at Richmond County Memorial Park in Rockingham. Family and friends are invited to attend this funeral service. A celebration of John’s life will be held at a later date in Palm Springs, California.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in John Howe’s memory may be made to DAP Health in Palm Springs, your local hospice, or a charity of your choice.