In the closet, undisturbed, hang the clothes of a life-long farmer, Howard Charles Whittig, who for the past 70+ years made his living providing food for America.
Howard was born in the Caldwell Sanitarium (Hospital) on December 19, 1926, to Roy L. and Velma O. Biggs Whittig. At the age of three, while dangling a line off a bridge over Clear Creek, he caught his first fish, a trout, and after that, he was "hooked" on fishing for the rest of his life.
Times were hard back then, and all the neighbors relied on their children to help with the farm work. At age eight, one of Howard's friends and he worked ten-hour days during haying season for 5¢ an hour, half of what an adult man was paid.
Age brought more responsibilities added to his chores. In his words, "As I grew older, I had to help milk the cows, which was done by hand, a job I really never cared for. It was always too hot, too cold, and old Bossie always managed to kick or step in the milk pail or, even worse, wrap her dirty tail around my face." He also had to care for pigs, cattle, horses and chickens. At that time, horses were used for all the farm work.
Howard spent his early years on a farm near Notus school, where he attended all 12 grades in the same building. He was a member of the Boys Scouts from 1936 to 1938. He played clarinet in the high school band, and when Notus wasn't utilizing his talents, he would sometimes sit in with the Wilder High School Band. Having enough credits to graduate early, Howard started active duty in the United States Navy Reserves on December 23, 1944, just four days after his 18th birthday, much to his parents' concern since he was their only living child.
Howard told many stories of his service in the South Pacific at the end of World War II. One of his duties in the Navy was repairing airplanes, yet after his discharge on August 14, 1946, achieving the rank of Yomen 3 Class, his mechanical abilities were limited to changing the car's oil and maintaining the tractors.
When he was living in Los Angeles after his discharge from the Navy while skating at the Culver City Rollerdrome, he met Jack Spector, nephew of the famous Max Factor, known for developing cosmetics for Hollywood stars. This friendship afforded him many opportunities to rub shoulders with the rich and famous.
In the spring of 1947, his dad decided to leave his position at MGM and after buying a 12' trailer (for three adults), they left California to begin extensive travels in the U.S. The first day's expenditures were ten gallons of gas at 26¢ a gallon, food for three at $3.50, and a campsite for $1. The trip took three months, visiting at least 24 states, taking in the sights, fishing extensively, and Howard roller-skating in every town with a rink.
Howard and his parents returned to Idaho in 1948 and started farming on Stafford Road between Caldwell and Notus.
In 1950, at the Nampa Rollerdrome, Howard skated into Teresa Budell's life, and in 1951 he popped the question. On November 16, 1952, they said their "I do's" at St. Paul's Catholic Church and were happily married for almost 69 years, residing on Stafford Road the entire time.
On August 14, 1953, a daughter, Sue Ann, was born to the couple, followed by Keith on July 21, 1955, and Linda on February 8, 1968.
Howard loved nature and the outdoors. He often camped and fished at Yellowstone, Henry's Lake, and Deadwood Reservoir. He began hunting as a teen and was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He provided his family with deer, elk, and fowl throughout the years.
He also loved exploring the Owyhees, especially around Silver City and Delamar, digging for old bottles, panning for gold (he never found any), and having wiener roasts. He was also a master craftsman, building two family campers without blueprints.
His dad gave him his first plot of soil when he was six to plant a garden, and so his obsession began. Even at 95 years old, he had ordered his seeds, mapped out his extensive garden, and started his plants from seed in his small greenhouse.
Howard was preceded in death by his wife, Teresa (2021), his parents, his baby brother, Donald, and numerous much-loved aunts and uncles, and one cousin. He is survived by his children Sue Whittig Johnson (Chris) of Oregon City, Oregon, Keith (Lynda Kelly) of Meridian, and Linda (Devin Koski) of Boise, along with three cousins, spouses, and children.
The family would like to thank the ICU team at St. Alphonsus Nampa for their compassion and care for our father after his cardiac arrest and his home healthcare workers, Maria and Julie, for allowing him to live on his own (and feeding him lots of Mexican food).
A funeral service will be held at Dakan Funeral Chapel in Caldwell on Friday, May 20, 2022 at 2 pm, with interment following at the Canyon Hill Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Idaho PBS, The Boise Rescue Mission, or the USO, P.O. Box 96860 Washington, D.C. 20077-7677.