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A Legacy of Kindness: Remembering Chuck Howe

Chuck Howe, professor emeritus of economics and past director of the E&S program, passed away on March 3, 2024, at the age of 93. A Celebration of Life was held last week, where many from Howe’s storied life remarked on his enormous impact.

Chuck Howe, professor emeritus of economics and past director of the E&S program.

Howe and wife JoAnne regularly invited international visitors into their home over the holidays. Inspired by the Howe family’s warm welcome, many of these visitors chose IBS as their intellectual home. Director of IBS, Lori Hunter, was one such person whose family was invited out by the Howe’s. Lori recalls the Howes showing her family around when they first moved to Boulder, and the kind gesture is fondly remembered. 

“Chuck was an extraordinarily kind and wise man, generous with his time and his wide smile.  The Institute was enriched tremendously because of Chuck’s involvement, and he is missed,” says Hunter. 

An alumnus of Rice and Purdue University, Howe received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1958. He joined CU Boulder in 1970 as professor of economics. Howe was a leader in water management and regulation research, with particular focus on the American West. However, Howe also maintained a broad international outlook based on his many years living abroad in Indonesia, the Netherlands and Kenya. 

Howe became director of the then Environment and Behavior Program (E&B) in 1986. According to Terry McCabe, professor emeritus of anthropology and IBS fellow, Howe held intellectually stimulating program meetings, with lively, wide-ranging discussions all centered around the environment. 

The Environment and Behavior Program in May 1994. Members surround a table with a chalkboard in the background.
Lively discussions held by the E&B Program in May 1994. Chuck Howe is seated third from right.

“To say Chuck was a kind and supportive person is a vast understatement,” says McCabe. “He cared, not only about the intellectual life of those in the program, but about how each of us were progressing with our lives. I feel very fortunate to have had Chuck as a mentor and colleague.” 

While we mourn the loss of such a pivotal academic and community leader, IBS will continue Howe’s legacy in welcoming and supporting a diverse range of students, faculty and staff.