Update: The memorial service for Renie is at a new location: Faith Mennonite Church, 2720 E. 22nd St at 1 p.m., Jan 2. Potluck reception follows at Common Ground, 2700 E. 26th St. Bring a dish to share (or not).
Renie Howard passed away peacefully in hospice at the home of Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke. Mark was Renie’s Buddhism teacher. Renie was diagnosed with neuro-endocrine carcinoids metastasized to the liver in May of 2008.
Born Irene Gail Howard on August 13, 1955, she later changed her name to Renie Rae Howard. She grew up in Roseville but always considered her true home Bass Lake, Wisconsin, where she spent summers as a child and remained connected throughout her life. She was pre-deceased by a brother, Gary Howard, who died in infancy, and by her mother Lorraine. Survivors include her father Robert B. Howard and his wife Ardys Skoglund, her sister Carol and brothers Greg, David, and Brad; her son Noah Brandow, her step-daughter Sarah Rubin, and her loving companion Ben Kreilkamp. She leaves also four nieces, one nephew, four grandnieces, three grandnephews and numerous godchildren, including Ryan, Nora, Andrew, Daniel, Vin, Hannah, and Bing. A high school dropout at 16, Renie wandered the world, often alone, in Northern California, North Africa, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. She was a single mother through her twenties, got her G.E.D. and graduated Phi Betta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Her career included work as an editor at the U of M press and McGraw-Hill Publications, where she quickly became a senior editor. Later she worked on local environmental issues in Bass Lake. She also graduated from the Wisconsin Leadership Program, a two-year training in community activism. In the last several years she has worked freelance as a copy-editor, written a novel (“Bone Lake”) and served on the board of Common Ground, her Buddhist meditation center. As an editor Renie was known for incisive analysis and rigorous command of style. As a board member she was known for her clear thinking and cooperative spirit, as well as her leadership abilities. Those who know her novel recognize its insight into spiritual truths, gathered from years of spiritual practice and mostly lately Buddhist studies. The voice of her heroine, Lola, rings true, echoing Renie’s own youthful adventures and misadventures among various subcultures in town and country. With her friends Renie had a generous and open heart. Her sweet and gentle nature inspired love throughout her quietly adventurous life. She was known for her radiant presence and a fiercely loyal spirit. The circle of those who mourn her passing is wide and their love for her runs deep. We will miss her bright eyes and sweet smile. Donations may be made to Common Ground Meditation Center, where they will plant an oak in her memory at their new building, 2700 E. 26th St. Minneapolis, MN 55406.
There will be a public viewing of the body Wednesday from 11am to 1pm and then again from 7pm to 9pm. Feel free to drop by 3400 E 26th St. 55406 to sit quietly with Renie’s body for a time.