Cover photo for MaryJane Kathryn Harris Howard's Obituary
MaryJane Kathryn Harris Howard Profile Photo

MaryJane Kathryn Harris Howard

January 3, 1934 — January 22, 2024

Rock Hill

MaryJane Kathryn Harris Howard

MaryJane described herself first as a farmer. She was born in Harvard, Illinois, on January 3, 1934, to Dad (George Jay Harris †1957) and Mom (Jane Dorcas King Harris †1978).  She grew up happily on the family farm in Mendota, Illinois, with her siblings Herbert King Harris (†1972), John O Harris (†2018), and Ruth Agnes Harris Campbell (†2019).  They spent their days tending to cows, horses, pigs, and barn cats.  Driving tractors and trucks.  Growing watermelons, corn, and tomatoes.  Deadheading and rooting flowers.  Wherever she lived, she designated a little patch of land to farm, and you were sure to find her with dirt-covered fingernails.

MaryJane described herself as a wife and widow.  She met Vaughn Herman Howard (†1995) on a blind date while a nursing student at the University of Illinois.   They were both swept off their feet, married, and settled down in Vaughn’s hometown of Moorseville, North Carolina. Vaughn was a military police officer in the army and, six weeks after marrying, he was sent to Germany for a year.  Vaughn’s family took MaryJane in as one of their own and she loved them each deeply – Papa Horace, Mama Annie, his siblings Rozzell, Hubbert, Zetta, Mazel, Audrey, and Keith, and their extended families.  

MaryJane described herself as a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.  She and Vaughn raised four children - Vaughn “George” (Karen) Howard of Summerville, South Carolina, Kenneth “Ken” Howard of Kingsland, Georgia, Aleda “Bo” Howard of Indian Land, South Carolina, and Catherine “Be” Howard of Indian Land, South Carolina.  Son Ken and his wife, Joanne Clark Howard (†2021), had two granddaughters – Ashley Howard (Nate) Faulkenberry of Brunswick, Georgia, and Alexandra “Alex” Howard (Andrew) Straitt of Woodbridge, Virginia.  Granddaughter Alex and Andrew had one great grandson – Andrew “Trip” Straitt III of Woodbridge, Virginia.  There’s a little bit of MaryJane in each of us.    

MaryJane described herself as a seamstress.  She learned to knit and sew at her mother’s side.  She first worked as a spooler at Burlington Mills, attributing the noise to an early hearing loss.  She spent her retail career at the Piece Goods Shops, a company within the fabrics industry.  She enjoyed working at the Piece Goods Shops; she, and Iris Poole especially, could talk for hours about store merchandise and all things sewing.  She loved sewing children’s clothes, dance costumes, curtains, and quilts.   There wasn’t a Singer sewing machine she couldn’t repair.  She was never as happy as she was when she was sitting at a sewing machine singing her favorite country songs – Engelbart Humperdinck, Roy Clark, Gene Watson – Donna Fargo, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn – and the list goes on.  A joyful noise was often heard, indeed!    

MaryJane described herself as an animal lover.  She never turned her back on an animal in need.   Spaying feral cats and placing kittens in forever homes were her passions.  Many Land’s End and L.L. Bean slippers were sacrificed to the cause.  On more than one occasion, she went to work with a runt of a kitten in her bra or in one of our slippers.  That was a great adoption strategy too!  Crazy, Black Kitty, Wild One, Katarina, Grendel, Little One, Baby, and Angel were special rescues she kept for her own.  Sassy, a deaf and blind senior dog she adopted, was her faithful lap companion for several years.  Bad Boy,   a large orange and white tabby, was her last rescue.  He showed up in mom’s bed one morning after climbing through the house’s pet door.  Bad Boy never left and is still with us today.  

MaryJane sought simple adventures.  She was a Water Safety Instructor,  a Brownie Troup leader, a Girl Scout Troup leader, and an all-star softball player.  She loved motorcycles and mustangs.  Driving four on the floor.  Stamp collecting with Lida Muench.  Galivanting around with Bob and Patricia Hicks.  Riding in Sharon’s red jeep.  Going to garage sales and the Good Will.  Shopping in Toni’s closet.  Visiting with Dr. Jasper.  She loved to fly, even parachuting out of an airplane to celebrate her 80th birthday.  On her 90th birthday, she said, “Let’s go”.  Be said, “Where?”.  She said, “Anywhere.”  Be said, “Let’s get you discharged from the hospital first!”.  Her adventurous spirit never waned.  

To those of you who knew MaryJane, you knew you were loved.  It wasn’t because she wrote you letters; she seldom did.   It wasn’t because she telephoned you; she usually did not.  It wasn’t because she was demonstrative; she generally was not.  But her love-light shown bright in her own quite ways.  And, for that, she was deeply loved by her family and friends.  

May MaryJane’s memory live in our hearts for perpetuity.  

The family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the caring staff and residents of White Oak Manor Rock Hill.

The family will hold a private graveside ceremony at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.  A Celebration of Life will be held individually by her children; chocolate and ice cream will be provided.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to your local animal shelter.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of MaryJane Kathryn Harris Howard, please visit our flower store.


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