Irving Howbert, grandson of famous Colorado City namesake, passes onUntil Jan. 19, the Pikes Peak region area had in its midst a man who was not only the grandson of a famous man from Colorado City's earliest history - Irving Howbert - but could even recall what he was like.
His name was also Irving Howbert. Born May 9, 1916, to William and Mary Howbert, he passed away Jan. 19 at a local hospice. He was 97.
A celebration of his life will be held Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. in Grace Church Parish Hall, 601 N. Tejon St.
In his career, the younger Irving Howbert graduated from Yale Law School in 1942 and served three years in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he became a lawyer and worked in that field “well into his later years,” his obituary states.
“Like his father and grandfather, Irving contributed to many civic projects,” the obituary continues. These included serving as president of the Boys and Girls Club, director of the First National Bank and president of the Community Chest.
He also worked with the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) in 2007 in republishing his grandfather's 298-page autobiography, “Memories of a Lifetime in the Pikes Peak Region.”
Howbert is survived by his wife of 20 years, Janet Ida Sample Howbert; by his three children (Bill Howbert, Anne Bliss and Jani Cook) from his first marriage to Jane Drummond; and three grandchildren.
The Howbert family has been in this region five generations in all.
Howbert was also a stepfather to five children and step-grandfather to five others. “He will be missed by many, but his spirit of good humor, thoughtfulness, and generosity will live in many, for generations to come,” the obituary states.
He came to the Old Colorado City History Center in April 2007 when the OCCHS republished the “Memories” book and organized a celebratory signing.
At the event, Howbert quipped that he would be glad to sign copies that people bought, but “note that I am the grandson. It would be a curious thing if my grandfather signed it.”
The republishing project was led by OCCHS co-founder and long-time board member Dave Hughes. A Westside Pioneer article from April 12, 2007, summarizes how it happened:
“The last time “Memories” was published was in 1970 by First National Bank, which the senior Howbert had helped organize in 1874. Copies from that printing are scarce, but because of copyright laws, no reprints had occurred since. 'I purposely allowed the 1925 copyright on this book to expire, because I felt that my grandfather would have liked his book to be available as widely as possible,' Howbert writes in an introduction to the new edition.
"Aware of this situation, the OCCHS stepped forward. 'When I asked him what if the Historical Society reprinted the book, he was pleased as punch,' Hughes said. He credited OCCHS member Curt Neeley, who knew the younger Howbert, for helping bring about the favorable result.
“In the book, Howbert describes his life, starting in the year 1860, when he was 14 and traveling to Colorado with his father, then a Methodist minister, during the region's early gold-mining heyday.
“The book goes on to tell about Howbert's Indian-fighting efforts in the 1860s, his election as county clerk in 1869 (for which he had not even sought office and was to be re-elected several times), his assistance to Colorado Springs founder William Palmer and his other business exploits, including the Short Line railroad to Cripple Creek (now the route of Gold Camp Road).”
The elder Howbert died in 1934. The younger said he saw his grandfather numerous times during the years their lives overlapped (from 1916 to 1934). In a 2007 interview with the Pioneer, he described his grandfather as “a very honest man [who] played a big part in the development of Colorado Springs, including the Westside. The book is a good historical source because he was right there at the beginning, when there wasn't a single house where Colorado Springs is now, just buffalo grass.”
The younger Howbert also spoke about his grandfather in a visit to the Old Colorado City History Center as part of the annual Founders Day event in 2011. He described the historic personage as a “very serious-minded, very community-minded man," who was also “very, very modest” about his accomplishments.