Cover photo for Robert L. Howard's Obituary
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Robert L. Howard

December 5, 1930 — April 23, 2024

Robert L. Howard

Robert L. (Bob) Howard was called to his eternal home on April 23, 2024 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his beloved wife, Joanne, having recently celebrated 72 years of devoted and joyful marriage. Their surviving family consists of five children - Susan (Trey) Elrick, Sally (Toby) Fisher, Shari (Cary, deceased 2013) McMinn, Sandra (Christopher) Burner, Steve (Kate) Howard, 19 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

Born December 5, 1930, in Emporia, Kansas, Bob was raised there by his mother Letha after his father Carl’s death in 1936. An Eagle Scout, Bob was selected to attend the first World Scout Jamboree held after World War II in Moisson, France. Many public presentations about that 1947 experience developed his skill in speech and debate.

He graduated from Emporia State University in January 1952. He was President of the Student Government and several other student groups, finalist at the National Invitational Debate Tournament in West Point, New York, and one of two finalists for a Rhodes scholarship. In his Senior year, ESU appointed him Instructor of Speech and Debate Coach. Bob and Joanne met and dated at college debate tournaments all over the Midwest and were married in Superior, Nebraska, on February 24, 1952.

Bob enlisted in the Navy in June 1952, and during his four years of active duty graduated from Officers’ Candidate School, Navy Post-Graduate Intelligence School, and served as a Staff Intelligence Officer. He was discharged from the Navy Reserves in 1967. Bob, Joanne and their twin daughters returned to Kansas in 1956 for KU Law School. He supported his family by working two jobs and teaching Western Civilization Seminars to KU undergraduates, and Joanne provided daycare for other students’ children. Bob was Associate Editor of the KU Law Review. He was a member of the team that reached the finals of the National Moot Court Competition in New York City. He graduated law school in January 1959 “With Distinction” and Order of the Coif honors, and in 1990 the Law School awarded him its “Distinguished Alumnus” citation. Bob previously served as president of the KU Law Society Board of Governors and was a life member.

On February 1, 1959, Bob began his 65-year legal career with the Foulston Siefkin LLP law firm. As a longtime Chair of the firm’s Recruiting and Hiring Committee, its Litigation Practice, and member of the Executive Committee, he was a strong advocate of the firm’s commitment to excellence and strategy for growth to become the largest Kansas law firm. He was Chairman of the firm when he retired as full partner in 2000, but continued to counsel clients until his recent illness. Trusted by national and local clients to be lead counsel in many major business cases, he was nationally recognized for his premier litigation skills, being one of few elected to both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Bob was intensely loyal to his clients, and a tireless advocate for their interests. Many of his clients remained his lifelong friends.

A Life Member of the American, Kansas, and Wichita Bar Associations, he was Founding Chairman of the KBA Continuing Legal Education Committee, President of the Religion Law Section of the KBA, and a frequent CLE presenter. He received the KBA Outstanding Service award. Bob was Founding Chairman of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Historical Society. The City of Wichita and Sedgwick County jointly appointed him to lead their Task Force on Government Consolidation. He was appointed to the Kansas Justice Institute Advisory Council at its founding and continued to serve in that role.

An ordained elder for over 60 years at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Bob taught adult classes, served on numerous Boards and Committees, and led development of the vision to acquire and build Eastminster’s present 40-acre campus. Joanne and Bob have been longtime advocates for Eastminster’s unwavering commitment to Missions. During 25 years as a Director, he served multiple terms as Board Chairman of the National Presbyterian Lay Committee. He was a multi-term Trustee for Sterling College and was awarded its Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002. He was also a Trustee for the Medical Benevolence Foundation and the Church Development Corporation. Bob was a member of the Wichita Salvation Army Advisory Board, and 50-year advisor and counsel for World Impact and The Urban Ministry Institute. He provided substantial pro bono legal services to many other groups over the years.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to:

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

(Fund for families taking short term mission trips)

1958 N. Webb Road

Wichita, KS 67206


The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI)

3701 E. 13th St. N.

Wichita, KS 67208


Click here to watch service livestream:

Howard, Robert Flower Photos.pdf

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

1958 N Webb Rd, Wichita, KS 67206

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