I first met Ken in 2011, when I traveled down to LA for what was then the last SAG Plenary. He hung out with me and some of my NY friends afterward, told some great theater stories and was really enthusiastic about what everyone was working on in their markets. Over the years I saw him several times, and of course he made a visit to the Northwest last year, having lunch with the SAG-AFTRA Seattle Board. He saved the life of one of my Board members, Laura Kenny, when she got something stuck in her throat with the Heimlich maneuver. He also made a surprise Birthday call to my wife Kim last year that his wife Linda helped to coordinate. Ken was inspirational, funny, and definitely will be remembered. He was a true brother in arms, and though my exchanges with him were limited by location, his legacy is SAG-AFTRA and the members that will carry on his very important mission. Much love to his wife Linda and their family. Kim and I always watch 1776 every July 4, and this year, that film will be even more poignant. Rest in Peace Ken.
-Rik Deskin, Seattle Local President
Thinking of Ken Howard today, with love, strength and UNITY! He was a fun guy to hang out with, and always seemed to speak his mind, but with grace and dignity. I’ve had the pleasure to know him since I became a member of SAG, AFTRA, and then SAG-AFTRA. He never steered us wrong and I know he is leading the charge up in heaven! SAG-AFTRA Houston will miss him. Continued strength and perseverance for those of us left behind in SAG-AFTRA, his family, cohorts and friends!
-Michelle Robinson, Houston-Austin Local Board Member
As a Legacy SAG National Board Member and a current NY Board Member, I had the honor of knowing Ken Howard and sharing a precious friendship. I will always have an enormous amount of respect for Ken as a man, a colleague, and President of SAG-AFTRA. Ken Howard was a mentor to so many of us, always making time to truly listen to us, whether it had to do with our concerns about doing our very best for the membership of SAG-AFTRA, or simply sharing little snippets about family and friends. He was bigger than life, and will be missed so very much.
-Traci Godfrey, New York Local Board Member
I first got to know Ken through our joint service to SAG, and later marveled at his leadership when he became national president, while I served on the board. He had a wonderful way of making each person, from board members to those who did background, feel important and appreciated. He was always encouraging my acting and my filmmaking efforts. I particularly enjoyed his wonderful stories shared after board meetings, told with his unique and exuberant wit. I had asked him to share some stories with members of The Lambs (the oldest professional theater club in America, founded in 1874) and he agreed. His busy schedule made it difficult set up a date, but then one day I got a call that he had a free day in NY and "let's do it!" At that luncheon, which helped raise funds for The Lambs Foundation, Ken's presentation to a sold out crowd was received with a standing ovation. The members were truly excited about making Ken an Honorary Life Member, and Ken was equally excited about being one. As a colleague and fellow unionist, a fellow Lamb and a friend, Ken will always be remembered with respect and love. My warmest regards to Linda, who along with Ken, made me and others feel like family.
-Marc Baron, New York Local Board Member
He was at the forefront of bringing our unions together – a force and a terrific actor. I was shocked and very saddened to hear of his passing. He is missed.
-Ellen Wacher, Vice President, Miami Local
Thank you Ken Howard, for moving our union into the future and uniting us. You will be missed greatly and remembered fondly. Much love to your family and friends, may sweet memories sustain them.
-Laura Kenny, Vice President – Actor/Performer, Seattle Local
For me, Ken will always be Thomas Jefferson. Partly from that inspiration, I've read the Jefferson biographies and several others of the Founding Fathers over the years. I also was quick to note when Ken appeared in a movie or a TV show. From The White Shadow to Grey Gardens to The Judge, it always made me smile to see Ken. Fast forward to last year – I got to meet my hero. As SAG-AFTRA president, he visited KING-TV. I'm not one to get gaga over celebrities, but here was Thomas Jefferson in the flesh. We got to chat a little right before he appeared at a local meeting. Once again, Ken inspired me. Today, I'm a proud member of the local SAG-AFTRA board here in Seattle. If someone can be a mentor after just one day, it was Ken.
-Scott Goldman, Seattle Local Board member
It is the mark of a truly great person to be able to see what others often miss or cannot imagine. Ken was one of those rare individuals who could look for and see the abilities and talents of others, who was able to envision the possibilities of the inconceivable and to bring the positive to life. The vision, the optimism, the inclusiveness and the daring marked Ken's tenure as a union leader. Those same qualities also informed his art and his many fine performances. I am humbled to have known Ken Howard, especially during my time as a New York Local board member. He welcomed my participation and embraced me – as he did everyone – as one of his colleagues in the union movement. And that big guy with those long arms reached across the country, enfolding all of us. Ken belonged to all of us - and we will always belong to him.
-Sandra Karas, New York Local Board Member
A personal observation regarding Ken Howard. I got into acting late in life. I was blessed to earn my SAG card quite quickly, followed by AFTRA and then Equity. Having spent 30-plus years on the management side of the table I believed it important to learn about my new union family. I met Mike Hodge at one of the events. It was interesting to meet a man with a voice even deeper than mine! (The voice of God, as Ken often said.) We discussed my new membership and upon hearing of my background, Mike asked me to get more involved with the union. I did. And with that came meeting a man that I could stand toe-to-toe with and actually look into his eyes – Ken Howard. Over the next couple of years, through the course of elections, conventions, meetings and social events, I got to meet, talk with, dine with, learn from and befriend Ken Howard. I don't need to say what a phenomenally good, intelligent and talented man he was. But here's a little something I'd like to share. In my former career, although still in my mid-twenties, I was lucky enough to travel the world wearing three-piece suits and wingtip shoes. Mr. Businessman! One day, while discussing a client with a senior partner, I casually mentioned taking the client for a day of golf to see what kind of guy he was. The senior partner (a distinguished, white-haired, very John McGuire-like man) responded by saying: "Well, playing golf is a good thing. It will probably tell you a lot about the man's honesty. But if you really want to learn about someone, get him talk about his wife. Not his family. Not his kids. Just see how he talks about his wife. And if it's respectful, then he's someone you can trust. He has character". Interesting. I carried philosophy with me my entire life. It is truly an interesting way to assess someone. So, that leads me to the 2014 TV/Theatrical contract negotiations. We were ensconced for quite a period of time, long days, and some of us far away from home. One day at the buffet-style lunch, I went up and I was standing on line. I then noticed someone behind me. I turned and it was Ken Howard. We got into a little conversation regarding the morning's events and then somehow it turned to the long days and long distance traveling. And he said he didn't enjoy being out of town. He'd rather be home with his wife. And then we got talking about our wives. When Ken spoke of Linda, his wife, he talked with respect, admiration and affection. He didn't gush like a school kid, but you could feel the love in the way he spoke, the words he chose to use and the look in his eyes. Yes, this man truly loved and respected his wife. And that was when I found the wonderfully unique quality of this man – he was a man of unquestionable character. Yeah, unquestionable character – a description not often heard anymore. But one truly warranted when speaking of Ken Howard. This is something I'd like to add to the thoughts and memories of this special man: Ken Howard was a man of character. And I/we are blessed to have known him and call him friend. May God bless Linda and help her to grieve. And may Ken’s character always serve as an example for us. R.I.P., dear friend.
-Rick Zahn, NY Local Board