Murray County

October 12, 2013

Tim Howard: ‘A hero for this community’


Preserving history

Through all of Howard’s work preserving history and teaching, he has come back to one theme.

“It’s OK to be from Murray County,” he said. “We have lots of good things to be proud of.”

Howard is heavily involved in the historical society, having served as president, heading many of the committees and serving as a trustee. He has been instrumental in preserving many of the society’s properties, including the Old Spring Place Methodist Church, the Wright Hotel and the Chatsworth Depot. He’s also a key member of the Spring Place Ruritan Club and active in his church.

One of Howard’s main projects has been preserving and continuing programs at the Chief Vann House in Spring Place, a state historic site. In recent years, state budget cuts have left people wondering how the Vann House would remain open.

“Without our Friends group that Tim organized, especially with the budget cuts, it would have been impossible for us to maintain our standards,” said Julia Autry, interpretive ranger at the Vann House. “With only one full-time employee we really depend on the volunteers. Without Tim, none of this would be here. He was the driving force behind the house for many years.”

Howard created programs at the Vann House, including Vann House Days each summer and the Christmas by Candlelight each December. He trained the docents and helped bring in much of the donations, which allowed the historic site to build a museum and obtain more land.

“Without him, this place wouldn’t exist as it is,” Autry said. “It sounds like a hyperbole, but it’s really not. He’s really made it what it is today.”

Jim Stancil, who retired earlier this year as site manager at the Vann House, said Howard has become the “Vann House icon.”

“It has been a labor of love for him,” Stancil said. “He doesn’t do it for the money. He just really loves the Vann House.”

Howard has jumped in to help wherever he was needed, helping with research, giving a tour or even trimming shrubs and cleaning, Stancil said.

“We’re all very happy for Tim getting this great recognition that he surely deserves,” Stancil said. “What a true friend he has been to the Vann House all these years. I think he’ll always be there looking out for the Vann House.”


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