Eva Jacquelyn "Jackie" Curran Howard

April 14, 1933 - December 10, 2004


What a lovely set of photos Gordon (her husband) has shared with us of Jackie Curran Howard from her early years at Thornhill, through her marriage to Gordon, and her years  with her family in California.  Gordon and Jackie were supporters and contributors from the beginning of this McComas Memories website back in 1999.  My gratitude to both the Howard's for sharing their memories with me and ultimately with all the readers of this website.  Even though I never had the opportunity to meet Jackie personally I do feel i've grown to know her from our emails.  I know she will be greatly missed.  Once you read Gordon's biography of Jackie that follows you'll feel the same.

Webmaster Pat Smith



By Gordon Howard, Sr.


Eva Jacquelyn “Jackie” Curran Howard (04/14/1933-12/10/2004) was the daughter of Lynch Alexander Curran, Sr. (01/17/1901- 04/14/1971), and Johnsie Mabel McMillan (0925/1909-12/19/1993) of Thornhill, Mercer County, West Virginia.  She was of Scotch-Irish ancestry and very proud of both.  The Scotch side being the McMillan Family, previously of Ashe County, North Carolina and the Irish side being the Curran (previously Currin) from Louisa, Montgomery, and Pulaski Counties, Virginia. 

The Curran family resided on top of George’s Ridge at Thornhill, Mercer County, West Virginia, her grandfather, Haller Alexander Curran, purchasing the property in 1908.  Her father Lynch was a coal miner at McComas for most of his life.  When he was in his mid-40’s, he suffered a heart attack and this created a tremendous burden on the family although he lived to be 70 years of age, his work capabilities were limited.  Without a good formal education, he was extremely smart and continuously read and researched books becoming proficient in algebra and electrical theory.  He was the first resident of Thornhill to purchase a crystal radio and he was very proud of that.

There were six children born of this family.  Rose “Marie” Curran, Haller “Wesley” Curran, Lynch Alexander Curran, Jr., Eva Jacquelyn “Jackie” Curran, James Donald “Don” Curran, and Elizabeth Geraldine (Gerri) Curran all of whom lived until their adulthood.

When Jackie started grammar school, for the first few years, she attended the elementary school at Thornhill.  This school was small and located on the right hand side of the hillside as you go up the dirt road alongside what is called George’s Branch.  India Harless was her school teacher.  Mrs. Harless realized how studious Jackie was and double promoted her in the third grade.  Eventually Jackie attended McComas High School at McComas and was active in the choir and was a member of the National Honor Society in the fall of 1948 and graduated in 1949 at the age of 17.

Her work career began as a waitress for Poppa Pete at the Pinnacle Restaurant in Bluefield, West Virginia.  She worked there until 1952.  Jackie, her mother, brother L. A. and his newly wed wife, Annie Hopkins, made a honeymoon trip to Norfolk to visit Jackie’s sister Marie.  They were driven by her mother’s younger brother, Ray McMillan, who was a taxi driver in Bluefield.  While in Norfolk, the family group along with her brother-in-law, Chief Bud Mason, visited his ship the USS HANK DD-702.  It was during this tour to the Combat Information Center of the HANK that Bud Mason introduced her to her future husband, Gordon Lee Howard.  This was in October 1951.  After a trip by the HANK to the North Atlantic near Greenland for winter antisubmarine exercises Gordon took a short vacation to visit his mother in Birmingham, Alabama.  On his return, he stopped to visit Jackie and to meet her family.  He proposed to her soon thereafter and they were married on 3 March 1952 by Rev. Mustard in Tazewell County, Virginia.  They traveled to Greenbrier, West Virginia for their honeymoon and then continued to Norfolk.  During the earlier part of the year, Jackie would visit her family at Thornhill while the ship was at sea.  In the fall, the ship was deployed to Europe for a tour of duty.  Two months into the cruise, Gordon received his orders for shore duty as a radar instructor at the US Naval School for Radarmen at Norfolk, Virginia.  Our first child was Janet Susan Howard born in 1953 in Virginia.

This tour of duty lasted for about five years.  Orders were received in 1946 to be transferred to the Radarman School at Treasure Island, California for an eight month advanced electronics school in Radar maintenance.  While living in San Leandro, California, our second child, Beverly Ann Howard was born in 1957.  A week after Beverly’s birth, we moved to Point Loma, California for additional schooling and then was assigned to the USS PHILLIPINE SEA CVS-47 at Long Beach, California.  In 1957, the families first home was purchased in Garden Grove, Orange County, California.  The family has resided in Garden Grove since then.  Our third child  Gordon Lee Howard, Jr., was born there in 1959.

From 1975 to 1980, Jackie worked at J. C. Penney Company, Huntington Beach, California as a sales associate in the house wares section and later as store security.  In July 1980, Jackie had a heart attack and required triple bypass surgery at the Western Medical Center, Santa Ana, California with Dr. Bob Steadman as the lead surgeon.  In 1990, Jackie had her second heart attack and again Dr. Steadman performed quintuple bypass surgery with an estimated success rate of about 45 percent.  She survived this after 21 days in the CCU, skin graft and long recovery.  In 1998, Jackie had a stint installed, which performed well.  In 1999 Jackie had right carotid surgery after having two TIA’s resulting in loss of her short term memory.  There were no physical handicaps.  She then contracted diabetes and kidney problems resulting in her being hospitalized on 5 December 2004 and death on 10 December 2004 with interment at Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, California.

Jackie’s hobbies included reading with, among others, Dean Koontz and Steven King as favorites.  She would check out five books from the library at a time and return them within a week.  When her niece was young, she always wanted Jackie to tell her a long fairy tale.  Jackie would respond with “once upon a time there was a fairy that had a very long tail”.  That made her niece so mad.  Tell me another fairy tale she would say.  She started genealogy research in 1988 and continued until her health prevented further research.  She liked to play hearts and spades on the computer.  She had no desire to have expensive clothes or jewelry because she was a practical person.  Her favorite television programs included game shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.  Her favorite programs were mystery movies, and of course, John Wayne movies.  On a trip to the Rivera in France, her husband bought her a bottle of Chanel 5 and Christmas Eve perfume.  She did not like the smell of the Christmas Eve perfume and asked me if I would be upset if she poured it down the drain, which she did.  That was very expensive perfume.

Jackie was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.  She was extremely pretty, surpassing that of Elizabeth Taylor, Eva Gardner, and Jackie Kennedy.  She was extremely smart with an excellent memory, witty, independent, blunt, caring, compassionate, and sensitive.  She did not hold a grudge, preferring to discuss a problem and getting over it.  Jackie and her husband were baptized on 23 August 1971 and were members of the Baptist Church.  She cleaned the church, baby sat in nursery, sang in the choir, and served as financial secretary.  She loved the Lord and her relationship with the Lord was a personal one.