Last Friday, the HCC family lost one of their own—Howard Phillip Bodner, history professor, world traveler, opera and sports lover, conversationalist, brother, devoted uncle, loving husband, friend and devoted son to parents who both survived the Holocaust.
After two weeks of European travel following the conclusion of our spring semester, Howard died suddenly with his long-time companion and wife, Dr. Joanne Lin, by his side. The suddenness of his passing has taken those who knew him well by surprise. We mourn his loss.
Howard was born and educated in Brooklyn, New York, attending the elite Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn College. He attended graduate school at NYU, leaving with all but his dissertation completed. He taught for one year at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa before moving to Texas. Howard taught at a variety of community colleges, including HCC in the late 1980s and early 90s, before receiving an appointment as a faculty member and professor in the Central College history department in 1994.
As a professor, Howard was a humorous but ardent lecturer who had a serious story to tell—that of our country’s history. He was loved by his students for his quirky jokes, his fairness, but most of all, his devotion to his craft. In his last six years, Howard was especially pleased to teach a history survey within the Honors College where his students not only gained a respect for the subject he taught but for the passion with which he taught it.
In his early years at HCC, after many years perfecting his craft as an adjunct professor, Howard eagerly engaged in the life of the college. He became an active member of the Faculty Senate. He served on the committee that planned and orchestrated our faculty conferences, year after year. He also served on the system-wide curriculum committee for many years, as well as a history department coordinator. He was a major contributor to a history department reader. And, of course, Howard was a consummate friend and colleague to so many in and out of the history department. After the Faculty Senate adjourned on Friday afternoons, Howard became a founding member of the Back Street Café regulars, always eager for more conversation and comradery.
When Howard became a freshly-minted full-time faculty member in 1994, I told him that becoming a part of the history department at Central was not unlike getting married. “We would be together ‘until death do us part.’ So, we always need to make the best of it.” And surely Howard did. We will miss his presence in the hallways of Central, in the classroom and amongst our students. Rest in peace, dear friend.
David Wilcox, colleague and friend
June 8, 2018