Kathleen Virginia Howard, the third of five siblings born to Claude and Mariah Colmes, was born March 21, 1935, in Hagerstown, Maryland. At the age of three, her parents and grandparents relocated to Bethesda, Maryland, where they resided several years before moving to the Lincoln Park community of Rockville, Maryland. Kathleen was nurtured by her family and the close-knit community members of Lincoln Park. She was a product of the Montgomery County Public School System. Kathleen was a 1953 graduate of Carver High School where she excelled academically as well as athletically. She was a star basketball player. Kathleen was inducted into the Lincoln Park Athletic Hall of Fame in October 2009.
Kathleen's maternal grandmother encouraged her to take piano lessons at an early age. She confessed Christ as her personal Savior at an early age, was baptized and united with the First Baptist Church of Ken-Gar, Kensington, Maryland. She was actively involved in the church, attending Sunday School, singing on the Junior Choir, and working wherever directed by her elders. Kathleen later united with Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Rockville, Maryland, where she faithfully served. She used her musical talents to serve God. Kathleen was one of the original members of the Spiritual Ensemble, member of the Chancel Choir and Mass Choir, director and musician of the Young Adult Choir and the Male Chorus. She was particularly fond of the Male Chorus, often referring to them as "My Men."
Kathleen did not limit the use of her musical talent to Mt. Calvary. In her earlier years, she was the musician for a community gospel group, the Pleasant Tones. They travelled throughout the Metropolitan Area, lifting their voices in praise to God. Kathleen was known as the "girl who never came to school on Mondays" because she travelled with the gospel singing group and got home so late on Sunday nights, she couldn't get up for school on Monday mornings. It was common for the Spirit to hit Kathleen and she would leave the group unaccompanied as she shouted up and down the aisles. If the Spirit hit her, Kathleen was also known to take the microphone and take the song from the soloist. She also sang with a gospel group, The Thompson Singers. Numerous churches throughout the area would call upon Kathleen to assist them when in need of a musician. She always responded positively. Kathleen did not know how to say "no." To give a few examples of her faithfulness to service, she played for St. Mark’s United Methodist, Asbury United Methodist, Round Oak Missionary Baptist Church Women's Day Choirs, Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant, Emory Grove United Methodist and services held at Snowden Funeral Home.
Kathleen not only used her musical talents, she was a member of the Black History Committee and looked forward to preparing her infamous pig’s feet for the Black History Month culminating food tasting event. She was a strong supporter of the veterans with Spiritual Gifts and the youth of the Church; and attended the Thursday midday bible study class.
Kathleen was affectionately called “GooGoo” by her grandchildren and those who loved her. Kathleen loved her family and was always there to support them during the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad, during the joys and the sorrows, and through the thick and the thin. She loved unconditionally. She had no problem counseling loved ones when they were wrong but she never condemned them. Kathleen had her say then sought to do what she could to help remedy the situation. She encouraged her children and grandchildren to do right by each other and to do right by other people. Kathleen truly believed that love is an action word. She continually displayed love by her actions toward her family and people in general. Kathleen loved planning the Father's Day dinner, where she got to create the menu and eat all the things she loved. Sometimes after a big family gathering, she would say, "I ate myself silly."
Kathleen loved people. She always had a kind word for people with whom she interacted with. She routinely checked on friends if she missed seeing them for periods of time. Kathleen did not find it necessary to broadcast to the world the different acts of kindness she showed towards others. She was a missionary from the heart. Kathleen had a passion for the elderly. She routinely took her mother-in-law, her aunt, and other seniors (in their 90's) on outings, to lunch, matinee movies, just to let them know that they were loved and not forgotten.
Kathleen loved to dress and everything had to be coordinated from head to toe, including the jewelry. When teased about still wearing high heels, she would say, "Indeed, I'm not giving up my heels. I'm not there yet."
Kathleen was a die- hard Redskins fan. She loved attending the games. At one point, she attended games with her nephew and later purchased season tickets so she and her son-in-law could enjoy the games together. She would be dressed from head to toe in her "Skins" attire, with the logo and flags on her vehicle. She loved her team despite the continual losing seasons.
Kathleen loved to travel. The amazing thing is that she traveled from the east coast to the west coast, but would not fly. It did not matter how people tried to convince her that flying was a breeze, she would rather travel an extra two or three days to get to her destination than chance flying on a plane. She never let the travel mode prevent her from going where she wanted to go. When her family reunion was on the west coast, she went by train. It took her an extra three days in travel time, but she was perfectly content. In fact, she was known to take cross-country train tours with her girlfriend Florice Neal, and have the time of her life. She was in no hurry. She loved cruises and would sometimes take the "Cruise to nowhere."
Kathleen was employed by the Montgomery County Public School System for several years before beginning employment with the National Geographic Society, where she worked for 30 years before retiring in January 1994. Upon retiring she was assistant manager of the Data Assembly Key Entry Operation. While employed at National Geographic, Kathleen received numerous outstanding performance awards. Kathleen also loved sports. She played short-field on the National Geographic Society softball team.
Kathleen established some lasting friendships while at National Geographic. She, Barbara Johnson, Joyce Bowe, and Betty Bryant were known as the "Golden Girls." Kathleen also established strong friendships with church members, Brenda Shelton, Adrienne Hatchet, and her sister, Elsie Fleming, also known as the “Golden Girls.” She also had a lifelong friendship with Edna Smith. They often traveled to various events in the area singing God’s praises.
On Sunday, July 15, 2018, as a result of injuries sustained from an automobile accident, our Heavenly Father said "well done, thy good and faithful servant," and beckoned Kathleen home. She responded to the call, she kept the faith and finished her course. In fact, when the accident occurred, she was about her Father's business, going to render service as the musician at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. She was faithful to the end and is now joined in the Heavenly Choir where she can play the piano and sing and never tire.
Kathleen was preceded in death by her parents, Clyde Colmes and Mariah Jones-Colmes; Gilbert Howard; a brother, John Colmes (Corrine); a sister, Elsie Fleming; a daughter, Towanna Howard; granddaughter, Stasha Howard; and a grandson, Kyle Cooper. She leaves to cherish fond memories: two sons, Reverend Aaron Howard (Olethia) and Allen Howard; a daughter, Claudia Cooper (David); four grandsons Allen Howard, Terrence Cooper, David Cooper, Jr., and Jalil Carey; one granddaughter, Kaley Howard; one brother, Clyde Colmes (Corde); one sister, Jeri Colmes; one brother-in-law, Edward “Jr.” Fleming; two extended family members, Reverend Anthony Mumford (Angelia); a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends; and a special friend, Ms. Irene Curry (the other half of the Laverne and Shirley duo), with whom she recently shared her last cruise.