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January 19, 2022 GK “Doc” Howland

GK “Doc” Howland passed away peacefully on January 13, 2022, at the Lenox Care Center. Doc was born Gordon Keigh Howland in Decorah, Iowa (1927) to Dr. Gerhard and Iona Howland, the first of four children, Tyke, Donna, and Helen followed. He attended school in Decorah and at an early age, began studies at Luther College in Decorah. Soon, he followed in his father’s footsteps and began his journey to become a doctor enrolling at STILL (now Des Moines University) to study Osteopathy. After earning his medical degree, he interned in Pennsylvania then returned to Decorah with a new bride. Doc and Martha met at a church party in Des Moines. Martha stated, “as a student, Keigh was so poor his clothes were ragged, and I thought he was a bum.”
Doc and Martha lived in Decorah for five years, where he practiced medicine with his dad. In 1959 Keigh joined the office of Dr. Mark Sluss, in Lenox, where the family relocated finding a hospitable home. For the next sixty-plus years, “Doc” Howland became an integral member of the community. He retired from practicing medicine in 1992. Over the decades, he tended to the medical needs of his patients, often making house calls 24-hours a day, seven days a week. You could always count on Doc to be there. In addition to his medical duties, Doc cheerfully joined in helping make Lenox a better place to live. He served on the school board when they finally pushed for a new school. In early 1969, After a long struggle, the “new” high school opened. Over the years, Doc served on the city council and was elected mayor. He also was a vital part of the Lenox Community Development and the Rotary, becoming one of its oldest and longest active participants. Many former Lenox athletes will recall Doc conducting physicals (at no cost) and mending the transient rodeo riders who had been injured at the Lenox Rodeo when the need arose.
Done with a smile, Doc’s love of community was always unmistakable. He went about influencing those around him while maintaining a modest demeanor. His passion was most evident in his devotion to family, his wife of 68 years, Martha, and their three children, Karen, Clark, and Margaret. The children much remember the driving vacations they took over the years. And, after the kids became far-flung, Doc and Martha got to see the country from coast to coast and north and south. Dr. Keigh (GK) Howland’s passing is the culmination of a long life, well-lived.
Doc is survived by his wife, Martha (Baker) Howland; daughter Karen Callahan (husband Kevin) of Parkville, MO and their two sons GK and Brad; son Clark Howland (wife LeAnn) of Des Moines, IA and three daughters Mere, Beth, and Amy; and daughter Margaret Bancroft (husband Mike) of Katy, TX and their three children, Isaac, Andrea, and Carly Mae. Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 22 at 11:00 AM, Lenox Methodist Church. Lunch to follow. Visitation at the Ritchie Funeral Home, Friday January 21, 3-7 PM with family greeting 5-7.

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