West Indian American Day Carnival Association President Dead At 75

Undated photo of William (Bill) Howard (l) flanked by Harry Belafonte (r.) and his wife, Mrs. Cordelia Howard. (Courtesy of the Howard Family)

By NAN Contributor

News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Mon. Aug. 6, 2018: Head of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, (WIADCA), of New York, William R. (Bill) Howard, passed away Sunday at his home in Brooklyn, weeks before this year’s annual carnival celebration.

A press statement from the organization said Howard, 75, was found dead in his Brooklyn home by his son William E. Howard, Jr. shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday. A coroner’s report has apparently indicated he died of natural causes.

“We are all devastated,” Howard’s family was quoted as saying. “We loved Bill dearly and will miss him terribly. We would ask that our privacy is respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”

Howard grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia before moving to New York. At 23, he became campaign finance manager of then New York State Legislator Shirley Chisholm, a Caribbean-American lawmaker who would go on to become a congressional representative and later a candidate for President.

“I met four presidents through Mrs. Chisholm; both Bushes [George H. W. and George W], President Jimmy Carter and President Clinton, Robert Kennedy, the entire U.S. Supreme Court, anyone who was anybody in Washington, D.C., came by to shake Chisholm’s hand,” Howard once noted. “That changed my life entirely.”

Howard went on to a celebrated career in business and government, including a stint as a deputy trustee in the U.S. Justice Department. He worked in a decades-long job as vice president for finance with the Equitable Life Assurance Society, where he was involved with making multi-million-dollar loans to various municipalities, corporations and individuals.

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Later, he also served on the Board of Brooklyn’s Jewish Hospital, which then became the Interfaith Hospital Cente, where he chaired the finance committee and once was president of the nursing school. In addition, he was a City University of New York board member from 1983 to 1995.

Howard also served as First Vice President of the Shirley Chisholm Cultural Institute for Children and also participated in the former President Barak Obama’s Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in tribute to Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in Washington, DC.

He became President of the WIADCA in 2014 and was in the final stages of planning for the 2018 edition of the five-day Caribbean carnival which begins on Aug. 31 and climaxes on Sept. 3rd.

Last night, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tweeted that Howard was “a friend” and he hopes this year’s “Labor Day’s WIADCA parade will be dedicated to his treasured memory.”

WIADCA for its part called Howard a “legacy in our community and within our organization” noting he “has been impactful to many and will remain a beacon for many generations to come.”

“Godspeed to a giant and a champion who worked tirelessly to keep the culture, contributions and legacy of Caribbean people alive.”

Funeral arrangements for Howard were pending at press time.