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Sunday, May 23, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ray W. Howard, 85; Education Pioneer In The Shoreline Area

When Ray W. Howard arrived as superintendent of the brand-new, consolidated Shoreline School District in 1944, students there had to travel to Seattle once they reached high-school age. The tiny district consisted of just four elementary schools.

When Mr. Howard left Shoreline 21 years later, he had guided the district through two decades of rapid growth, thanks to the baby boom and the postwar migration to the suburbs.

Shoreline had two high schools by 1965, despite losing much of its territory as the Seattle city limits marched north.

"I can remember he spent a lot of nights out," said his son, Lynn Howard. "He was involved six days a week in everything."

Mr. Howard, a Washington education pioneer, died yesterday in Des Moines. He was 85.

"He was the best administrator I ever worked for," said Elbert Honeycutt, a former Shoreline principal, administrator and longtime friend, "and I worked for a lot of them.

"He was a guy you could disagree with. Most places that would get you fired."

Mr. Howard was born in Doty, Lewis County. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1931, and later earned master's and doctoral degrees there.

He also did post-doctoral work at Columbia University in New York and Hayward State College in California.

Mr. Howard got his first job teaching and coaching in Yelm, Thurston County. In 1933 he moved to Renton, where his high-school basketball team was the first in the state to use the hook shot, his son said.

In 1937 Mr. Howard moved to Okanogan, Okanogan County, where he served as principal of the junior high and senior high and later as superintendent.

He returned to Western Washington in 1942 to become superintendent of the Overlake School District, a rural crossroads then. The school district later changed its name to Bellevue.

Two years later, he moved to Shoreline, recently consolidated from five smaller districts. Growth came quickly. When Honeycutt was hired as principal of the old eight-grade Lake City Elementary, then a Shoreline school, in 1948, enrollment was 1,300.

Honeycutt lived with Mr. Howard and his family his first month or two on the job. The superintendent was a "benevolent dictator," Honeycutt said, and a dedicated educator.

Throughout his years in Shoreline, Honeycutt said, he kept Mr. Howard's motto posted in his school auditoriums: "Always try your best."

When Shoreline High School opened, Mr. Howard stepped down as superintendent for a year to serve as principal. He retired as superintendent in 1963, and spent his last two years with the district planning and opening the new Shoreline Community College.

In 1965 Mr. Howard moved to California to become executive secretary of the Oakland Education Association. He later served as an administrative assistant at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif.

He returned to the Northwest to teach education at Seattle University in 1967, and was awarded the title professor emeritus when he retired in 1973.

Honeycutt said he and Mr. Howard met twice a year for lunch until Mr. Howard's health forced them to discontinue the tradition a few years ago.

Mr. Howard's survivors include his widow, Elma Howard, of Des Moines; a brother, Roy Howard, also of Des Moines; three sons, Lynn, Fred and James Howard, all of Seattle; a daughter, Sara Strauss of Wayne, N.J.; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services have not yet been scheduled, but will be held at Stokes Mortuary in Renton, Lynn Howard said.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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