Mildred Virginia Martin Howard

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Mildred "Virginia" Martin Howard, 92 and a resident of Pineville, passed away in her home on Thursday, April 30, 2009. She was born May 27, 1916, in Memphis, Tenn., eldest child of Roy Otis Martin Sr. and Mildred Brown Martin. Virginia Howard's life was animated by her love of music, and music flourished in the Martin home. During her high-school days, the musical duo of Virginia and her brother, Ellis, was in great demand at parties in and around Alexandria - Virginia accompanying at the keyboard while Ellis played the musical saw. Virginia's playing was a highlight of the "Musical Evenings" hosted by her parents, where family and friends gathered at the Martin home to sing and play the popular songs of the day along with compositions from the classical repertoire. Her youngest sibling, Esther, 12 years Virginia's junior, who watched these evenings from a stair landing, remembers, "Virginia's playing seemed so effortless; she could play any song without music, modulating seamlessly from one key to another." Following high school, Virginia continued her musical education, receiving a bachelor's degree in music (1938) and a master's degree in music (1951), both from LSU. She also received musical training at Stephens College in Missouri, the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the Julliard School of Music and Louisiana College. Her virtuosity at the keyboard placed her in high demand both as an accompanist and on the recital stage. She served as accompanist, organist and choir director at churches in Louisiana, Illinois and North Carolina. Notable highlights of her performance career included: her graduate recital performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto with the LSU Orchestra, and her debut performance of several piano compositions by the noted Southern composer Marion Claude Almond. Not only a performer, she was also a music educator and served on the music faculty of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., and later on the piano faculty at Louisiana College, Pineville. She had been a member of Delta Omicron, a collegiate professional music fraternity, since 1937. In midlife she was an active member of the board of the Moravian Music Foundation, and of the Sterns Collection of musical instruments at the University of Michigan. Upon her retirement from active board membership, both organizations awarded her emeritus status in recognition of her outstanding service and support. She endowed the Virginia Martin Howard Lecture Series at the University of Michigan, established the Mark Eugene Howard Arts and Technology Seminar Fund at Michigan Tech University, and the Mark Eugene Howard Endowed Professorship in Liberal Arts at LSU at Alexandria. She sponsored concerts for budding musicians through the Piatigorsky Foundation and the Virginia Martin Howard Foundation. All of her life, Virginia would gather the family around the piano, and her son, his wife, grandsons, their wives and her great-grandchildren would join her in music and song. She leaves a legacy of love and appreciation of beautiful music as worship reflecting the beauty of God. Soli deo gloria. Virginia Howard is survived by her son, Mark Eugene "Gene" Howard II, his wife Irma, grandson, Eric, his wife, Jennifer, great-grandchildren, Nathan, Jonathan, Mittie Anne, and Ethan, and grandson Joel, his wife, Brooke, and great-granddaughter, Ruth, all from Austin, Texas. Also surviving Virginia are her brothers, Ellis Martin, of Pineville, and Norman Martin, of Leawood, Kan.; and sister, Esther Floyd, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and numerous nieces, nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her husband, Mark E Howard; and her brother, Roy O Martin Jr. Visitation at Hixson Brothers Funeral Home, Pineville, on Monday, May 4, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at First United Methodist Church, Alexandria, on Tuesday, May 5, at 10 a.m., with the Rev. Barry Hoekstra and the Rev. Ron Terry officiating. Interment in Greenwood Cemetery, Pineville. Pallbearers will be Jonathan Martin, David Martin, John Floyd III, Robert Cavanaugh, Jamie Curley and Hank Smart. Honorary pallbearers are Roy O Martin III and Robert Martin. Memorials may be made to Louisiana Baptist Children's Home, P.O. Box 4196, Monroe, LA 71211. To send online condolences to the Howard family, please visit
Published in on May 3, 2009