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Brian Howard (1944-2010)

Brian Howard

It was with tremendous sadness that we learned that Brian Howard passed away earlier this month. Brian was a founding member of The Whole Noyse and appeared in Magnificat’s first season in performances of Schütz’ Weihnachtshistorie. A dear friend and musical colleague, Brian touched the lives of many in the early music community in the Bay Area. Magnificat extends our deepest sympathy to Brian’s wife Lynn. The following obituary gives some sense of Brian’s remarkable and diverse life. We will miss his gentle warm spirit.

Brian Howard, Computer designer and musician, died of cancer on February 1st at his home in Portola Valley, CA; he was 65 years old. Born on March 23, 1944, in Cambridge, MA, he grew up in Norman, OK. His father was a physics professor at the University of Oklahoma, and his mother was a classical pianist. He attended Stanford University on a National Merit scholarship, graduating in 1967 with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering.

In 1978, he became the 32nd employee of Apple Computers. As editor of the famous computer manuals, he combined meticulous language skills with exhaustive computer knowledge to create user-friendly instruction books that helped to popularize the nascent company”s products. One of the original four members of the Macintosh Project team, Brian Howard helped to revolutionize the personal computer; his signature was molded into the case of the original Macs. He eventually moved from computer documentation to architectural hardware design, which was more commensurate with his engineering background. At Apple, where he was the longest continuous employee, he was promoted to the level of DEST (Distinguished Engineer, Scientist or Technologist), in recognition of his exemplary work. He was celebrated among his colleagues for his fertile imagination and communication skills.

An accomplished and dedicated musician, Brian played cornetto, flute, and recorder with the Stanford Renaissance Wind Band and sang with the St. Ann Choir, California Bach Society, Stanford Early Music Singers, and Albany Consort. He also performed music at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Marin County and, in 1986, became a founding member of the early brass and winds ensemble, The Whole Noyse.

Predeceased by his mother Jane, stepmother Phyllis, father Robert, and brother Donald, Brian is survived by his beloved wife Lynne Toribara, stepdaughter Mariko Toribara, sisters Kathleen Howard (of Fostoria, OH) and Eileen Howard (of Belchertown, MA), nieces Keira Manes (of Greenfield, MA) and Terri Torres (of Fircrest, WA), and nephew Devin Manes (of Frederickton, NB, Canada), as well as a multitude of friends who cherished his gentle humility, boundless curiosity, creativity, generous spirit, and funny bone. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Doctors Without Borders or join Terra Pass.

A memorial concert will be given at Stanford University”s Memorial Church on Saturday, February 20 at 11 am.

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