James "Jim" Howard was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in June 2012. He was admitted on November 13th and received bone marrow stem cells provided by his son Shawn on 11/19. During the transplant recovery journey Jim was challenged by several significant setbacks that ultimately were too much to overcome. He won his battle against the cancer Friday 2/9/13 that had attacked his body as he joined his loved ones in heaven at around 4:30pm. He told me last week that he had several people waiting for him and he was looking forward to seeing them again. He was peaceful and comfortable and surrounded by family and friends.
We have been and continue to be so very blessed by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from family and friends. It has been so touching and heartwarming and has helped us all thru this. All of the messages sent to Jim were read to him and he appreciated them greatly.
He was born in Sebring, Florida in 1950 where he enjoyed a wonderful childhood. Jim grew up in the Sebring Fire Station where his father was the fire chief. When he was a teenager, the family moved to Ocala, Florida. There he made many lifelong friends.
Jim began his career in EMS working as an ambulance attendant for Hires Funeral Home in Ocala. After he received his Paramedic certification he worked in Citrus County and as a civilian in a military base hospital in the Pacific.
He returned to the states in 1984 and went to work at Shands Hospital as a flight paramedic for ShandsCair. Shortly afterward he became a Registered Nurse and later obtained his BSN from Florida State University. He became the leader of ShandsCair and served in that position for many years. Jim was dedicated to his ShandsCair family and the EMS community. He served as president on several different committees and has received numerous awards and recognition for his service throughout his career.
Jim thoroughly enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He loved Grouper fishing at Cedar Key, driving his '88 corvette, and Florida State Football.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Forrest and Marian Howard; brothers Bob and John Howard; and a sister Joan Howard Thwaites.
He is survived by his wife and best friend, Gwen Thomas Howard; son, Shawn (Monica) Howard; daughter, Connie (Dave) Mester; sister, Linda (Bill) Jones; three loving grandchildren, Carter & Ryan Howard and Sarah Mester, and several cousins, nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his faithful dog, Molly and Kiwi the kitty. He will be missed by many.
He would not want us to be sad but to rejoice for him. So in that respect we will have a celebration of Jim’s life on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM. The service will be held at Westside Baptist Church located at 10,000 West Newberry Road, Gainesville, Florida (Website: http://www.westsidebaptist.org). The family will receive visitors Friday, Feb 15th from 5 to 7 pm at the at Williams-Thomas West area facility - 823 N.W 143rd St. CR 241 North, Gainesville/Newberry, FL (Website: http://williamsthomasfuneralhome.com/).
In lieu of flowers, donations to: "Be the Match", Haven Hospice or the Jim Howard Scholarship fund would be appreciated.
We will work to continue his legacy by establishing the Jim Howard Scholarship Fund to support future EMS professionals in their education and training. Additional information about the Jim Howard Scholarship fund can be found on the ShandsCair website at: http://donate.giving.ufandshands.org/jameshoward
To donate to “Be The Match” Bone Marrow Foundation, use this website by clicking the blue “Make a Donation” button under Jim’s photo on the left of the page. For information about joining the bone marrow donor registry go to http://www.marrow.org.
Haven Hospice can be accessed by going to http://www.havenhospice.org/honor-and-memorial-gifts.aspx
Be The Match Foundation Information
Every year thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening illnesses need a marrow transplant but have no donor match in their family. They depend on Be The Match to help them find an unrelated donor and receive a transplant.
When you make a contribution to Be The Match Foundation, you save lives and help patients afford a transplant, find a matching donor and build a future as we advance medical research.
Jim and I believe in the work they do, and we want to offer other patients and families hope for a future. I invite you to see for yourself all that they are doing to save lives.