Richard P. Howe Print E-mail

Richard P. Howe

Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother;

Richard P. Howe, who served an unprecedented 40 consecutive years on the Lowell City Council, including four terms as mayor, died peacefully on Friday with his family by his side at the Meadows at Edgewood in North Andover where he had resided and been cared for by its dedicated and compassionate staff for the past several weeks.

Born in Lowell on December 30, 1932 to James E. Howe and Mary E. (Sullivan) Howe, Richard Peter Howe is survived by his wife Mary E. (Smith) Howe, to whom he was married for 57 years, and their children Richard P. Howe Jr. and his wife Roxane, Peter J. Howe and his wife Roseanne, and Martha E. Howe, all of Lowell. He also leaves his grandchildren Andrew P. Howe, Peter J. Howe Jr. and his wife Arielle, Kimberley Howe, Eric Howe, Emily Howe, and Rachel Howe; his two sisters, Carol M. Collins of Lowell and Katherine M. Navetta and her husband Samuel of Lowell; sisters-in-law, Mary F. Howe of Lincoln, RI, Patricia A. Howe of Chelmsford, Martha Leahy and her husband John of Nashua; a brother-in-law, Joseph P. Smith and his wife Donna of Lowell; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers James E. Howe and Robert A. Howe and his brother-in-law Robert A. Smith and his wife Miriam. 

Richard Howe developed a passion for baseball at a young age, spending countless hours at Highland (now Callery) Park. As a first baseman at Keith Academy, he was twice named a Catholic League All Star and in 2012 was inducted into the Lowell Catholic Athletic Hall of Fame.  Baseball won Howe a scholarship to Providence College where, from 1951 to 1955, he was frequently pictured in the Providence Journal sports page, sliding head first into home plate, bowling over catchers, or arguing with umpires. When he was drafted into the United States Army after college, he continued playing baseball as captain of the Fort Devens post team that was runner-up in the 1956 All Army World Series.

Leaving the army in 1957, Howe taught at Malden Catholic High School and then at Billerica’s Howe Junior High School while attending Suffolk University Law School at night. After graduating from law school, he served as a special agent for the Office of Naval Intelligence before returning to teaching at Lowell High School where he was also elected president of the Lowell Federation of Teachers.
Upon his election to the city council, Howe resigned his teaching position and began the full-time practice of law. The competitiveness and passion so evident on the baseball field carried over to the courtroom where Howe epitomized the concept of zealous advocacy in a legal career that spanned almost fifty years. In 1990, Howe was joined in his law practice by his daughter, Martha E. Howe, who continues to maintain the Howe Law Office in Kearney Square.  The Greater Lowell Bar Association twice named Richard Howe lawyer of the year and in 1996, the Massachusetts Bar Association presented him with its Community Service Award for his many years of public service.
A life-long member of St. Margaret Parish, Richard P. Howe found great strength in his Catholic faith. The teachings of the Dominican priests at Providence College helped guide him through life. Most weekdays, he attended Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Shrine and he and his wife Mary enjoyed travelling to religious sites in Europe with Rev. Herve Gagnon and others from Lowell.   

First elected to the city council in 1965, Howe attended his final council meeting on December 13, 2005. His council career spanned Lowell’s transformation from a place of high unemployment and blighted buildings to a national model of urban revitalization in post-industrial America.
Richard Howe considered his 1988 role in settling a lawsuit brought against the city by minority parents who alleged unequal treatment of their children in the city’s schools to be his most significant accomplishment as an elected official. With the U.S. Justice Department urging a federal judge to take over the Lowell schools, newly elected Mayor Howe convinced the judge to give him and the new school committee a chance to negotiate a settlement. They did and as a consequence of that settlement, Lowell was able to build more than a dozen new schools with 90% of the cost reimbursed by the Commonwealth.

During that same mayoral term, Howe helped ease the strain on city services caused by the sudden arrival of thousands of refugees from Southeast Asia by obtaining much-needed federal aid with the help of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.  More importantly, Howe’s principled and practical approach to Lowell’s newest immigrants set a positive example for the rest of the city.
In his fourth term as mayor in 1994-95, Howe persuaded councilors, in the face of sharp opposition, to vote for the construction of the Tsongas Arena and LeLacheur Park; the rebirth of the Wang Towers as Cross Point; and the redevelopment of the Bon Marche building. In the aftermath of these votes, former U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas and former City Manager William Taupier wrote in the June 8, 1995 Lowell Sun, “Mayor Richard Howe deserves our admiration. A mayor needs, as never before, courage, vision, and common sense. Dick Howe has those qualities in abundance.”  
In November 2013, the city of Lowell honored Howe’s four decades of service by naming the newest bridge across the Merrimack River for him.  As the plaque on his bridge aptly states, “. . . Richard P. Howe was devoted to his family and proudly served his community and country with honor and integrity.”

Howe – In North Andover, September 25, 2015, at The Meadows, Richard P. Howe, 82, of Lowell, beloved husband of Mary E. (Smith) Howe. Friends may call at the O’DONNELL FUNERAL HOME 276 PAWTUCKET ST. at Fletcher from 3 to 8 P.M. Tuesday. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Funeral Mass Wednesday morning at ST. MARGARET CHURCH at 10 o’clock. Burial will follow at St. Patrick Cemetery. E-condolences/directions at Those wishing may make contributions in his memory to Boston Catholic TV, P.O. Box 9196, 39 Chestnut St., Watertown, MA 02471 or the BU Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center, c/o Boston University School of Medicine, 72 Concord St., L219, Boston, MA 02118. Arrangements by Funeral Directors James F. O’Donnell, Jr. and John W. Crane (978 or 866) 458-8768.   


Condolences (13)
  • Christine Jones  - my deepest condolences
    I'm so sorry on the loss of your father, Richard. He made great contributions to the city! To read the glowing remarks made by Paul Tsongas concerning your father must make you really proud! My deepest condolences to the Howe family! Sincerely Christine Jones
  • subhashish Acharya ( subes )  - condolences
    Condolence to the entire Howe family. Richard P. Howe was a brilliant personality. What a great dad who passed on such great traits to his son Dick Howe. A life so well lived.
  • Maria Lobao  - my deepest Condolences
    My condolences to the entire Howe family for a huge loss. Attorney Howe was one of the most humble and sincere gentleman I knew. He will be deeply missed by so many people. May his soul rest in peace.
  • anthony dias
    To the Howe family You all are in my Payers and i am sorry for your loss Anthony P Dias
  • Gerald Blankenship
    To the family, I had the honor to have met your husband, father and grandfather a few years ago with David. The dinner we shared with the family was very filling not only in food but conservation and the warmth of your family. Suzanne and I will keep you in our prayers during this time of sadness but we can rejoice knowing he is with his Lord and Savior...Jesus Christ. Gerald and Suzanne Blankenship Crosby, Texas
  • Barry Pretzel  - Mr. Mayor
    Of all the "politicians" I met during my career as a news reporter, very few put the interests of their constituents and communities above their own. Dick Howe was one of them. His many accomplishments were apparent during his lifetime; are remembered now that he's passed and will be part of Lowell long after we're all gone. His dedication was never lost to the citizen voters who returned him to the council again and again and again with nary a campaign. It was a privilege to have know him – my condolences to everyone who did.
  • Al Lorenzo
    Sorry for your loss Dick. Your father's obit framed the success of Lowell itself.
  • Jack Slavin  - A great man!
    I seved with Dick in the early 1970's. Always true to his convictions. No games...just doing what was best for Lowell. He'll be missed by all. My thoughts are with his family.hzeY9
  • Maureen Vigeant Taylor  - To the family of Dick Howe
    I want to express my deepest sympathy. Your Dad was good friends with my late parents. Robert and Madeline Vigeant. He was an inspiration in helping with our family through some dark times. He was kind, thoughtful and was always there. He will be missed. There will always be a spot in my heart for him. My prayers go out to the whole family.
  • John Leite  - Morey "Junior" High
    As I've mentioned on FB, Dick and I were students at the Morey "Junior" High on Pine Street. After our 9th grade graduation, Dick went on to Keith Academy and I to Lowell High. Dick was one of Lowell's finest men who served our great city. He will always be remembered for his service to all of us. My sincere condolences to Mary and the entire Howe family. Sincerely, John Leite.
  • Kathy Benshimol  - What an amazing life!!
    Carol was so sorry to read about the passing of your brother Richard. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. What an accomplished man he was. Love Kathy Benshimol Daley Middle School
  • Meg Smith  - Many condolences and thanks
    So sorry for your loss and deep gratitude for a legacy of service an caring in our wonderful city of Lowell, Mass.
  • Eddie Boyle and Family
    Good man, Good Family
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