Spotlight on Alumnus Roger Howard

Idaho State University alumnus Roger Howard was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, but because of his father’s assignments for the Department of Agriculture, Howard spent his childhood years in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Clarkston, and finally Boise, where he graduated from high school, as he says, “with less than a sterling record.” 

Spotlight on Alumnus Roger Howard

Idaho State University alumnus Roger Howard was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, but because of his father’s assignments for the Department of Agriculture, Howard spent his childhood years in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Clarkston, and finally Boise, where he graduated from high school, as he says, “with less than a sterling record.” 

“I enjoyed being the class clown too much, so I really wasn’t a very good student, didn’t develop good study habits, and didn’t have any fondness for any of my classes except for one course in sociology.” 

Howard realized that he should continue his education, but only applied to ISU because no one else in his class had.  He was accepted and joined the freshman class of 1967.  He was pleasantly surprised that professors and advisors assumed and expected that he would do well in his studies, and so he did, thriving in the nurturing atmosphere.  No need to continue as a class clown, no more “teachers’ crossed-eyed looks,” just a perfect place to explore his academic interests and figure himself out as well.  

He believes the cross-section of seasoned, steady ISU professors and new, vigorous PhD’s provided invaluable exposure to widely varying teaching styles and views, challenging him to explore and deal with inconsistencies, to identify issues and apply critical thinking in all his studies.  Dr. Herb Lindgren’s and Dr. Charles Anderson’s mentoring and teaching skills fanned his high school spark of interest in the field of sociology and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1971.  

He spent another year at ISU working on a master’s degree in sociology, but the program was legislatively de-funded midway through. By then, Howard was becoming interested in exploring another part of the country, so he transferred credits and moved to East Carolina University and received his master’s degree in social psychology in 1973.  He indulged his wanderlust over the next few years working in Wyoming, North Carolina, and Connecticut in the health-care field.  He attended Harvard University, receiving his master’s degree in public administration in 1983. 

Howard stayed in the health-care field working for an HMO and as vice president and chief operating officer at various regional health care companies for several years.  He quickly learned that stress-relief time was a necessary adjunct to that career and, while CEO for a mental-health treatment hospital, chose being a bid-spotter at local auctions as one such measure. With his keen eye, he spotted Nora, his future wife, in the audience one day and they subsequently set a dinner date.  On the way, Howard checked on a counseling session and discovered the person scheduled to run it was unable to attend, so he stepped in to handle it and Nora waited until the end of the session without complaint.  Nora’s aplomb at spending their date on the sidelines of a group therapy session convinced Howard that he had indeed spotted the woman for him. 

They raised two sons of whom they are very proud. Jackson, 29, graduated from Vassar and attended graduate school at American University, and the Peruvian Diplomatic Academy.  He now works for the Chilean Embassy.  Sam, 23, is a graduate of Champlain College.  While earning his degree, he became interested in the beer-brewing process and is currently studying that process in depth, hoping to become a master brewer.

Howard continued in the health-care management profession for many years. During his stint as vice president and chief operating officer for a health care organization, he started seriously considering a career change, “looking around for something more joyful, less stressful than the field I was in.”  After some thought, he decided to turn both his life-long love of dogs and his long-time enjoyment of baking into a business.  A little over a year later, after taking professional baking and culinary courses, finding a suitable location, developing recipes, etc., he opened his first bakery for dogs in Connecticut.  He now owns Brownstone Bakery for Dogs, a pet store and bakery for dogs specializing in healthful, high-quality (fit for human consumption), sugar-free food and treats for dogs. 

The novelty of the business attracted considerable attention from New York film production companies including the Rachel Ray Show and BarkFox.  Video productions have included mention of the bakery, including footage shot in the bakery showing Cherry, a pit bull rescued from a dog-fighting farm, enjoying “Cherry’s Bacon Bits” (a portion of product sales were donated to help finance the dog’s leg surgery), and a quick shot of Howard preparing a special “sundae” for the dog.  Over 50 dog weddings have been performed at the store; it’s been featured on the local news following a front page story in the Hartford Courant, and thereafter on a major Korean TV show. Howard no longer performs dog weddings, preferring to concentrate on baking and greeting his customers and their dogs, but he still has on display the 4-tiered square faux cake with doggie bride and groom on top made for a photo-shoot for Modern Bride magazine.  

Howard previously served on several Boards of Directors and advisory boards for health care organizations, and was a member of the ISU Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Arts and Letters from 2008 until “retiring” in the spring of 2015. He’s still active in civic events and annually organizes the Brews, Blues, and Biscuits fund raiser for Our Companions Animal Rescue.  When asked about retiring from the bakery business, he says he’s enjoying himself so much and still loves what he’s doing as a second career, so he’s more than happy to continue doing the same for some time to come. 

 

Written by Rayna Valentine, alumna and member of the College’s Dean’s Advisory Board

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