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Howard Prescott  '54


No. 20020June 14, 1932 - August 30, 2011          

Died: Penbroke Pines, FL

Interred: Agudas Achim Cemetery, Falls River, MA


Howard Prescott was born in Chicago, IL, the son of Samuel and Beatrice Prescott. His family later moved to Newport, RI, where he graduated from Rodgers High School. As a young man he attained the rank of Eagle Scout. (Two chips off the old block, Howard’s sons, Bruce and Neal, later followed in their father’s footsteps in becoming Eagle Scouts.) During these early years, Howard was also a lifeguard at Newport Beach.


Howard was one of 36 Jewish cadets out of 633 from the Class of ’54 who graduated from The United States Military Academy at West Point. While at West Point and throughout his life, he demonstrated that his analytical skills were as impressive as his English and literature talents. Upon graduation, Howard entered the Army as a second lieutenant of Infantry and served his country in West Germany. Howard was a proud West Point alumnus and spoke warmly and favorably of his colleagues there.


Howard married the love of his life, Marilyn Kertzman. It was truly love at first sight. Howard was bowled over by Marilyn’s beauty and poise. He was proud to say that they never fought, which in today’s world is looked upon as an aberration. Marilyn traveled to Europe when Howard was stationed there, but tragedy struck and Marilyn’s death had a devastating effect on Howard. Being the soldier he was and having an intense strength of character, Howard went on with his life. He married Helen and together raised their two boys, Bruce and Neal.


Following his Army career, Howard was an executive at COMSAT in Washington, DC, which was a quasi-government agency for communication satellites. After an early retirement, he settled in Rhode Island where he ran a restaurant and spent a lot of time sailing the Narragansett Bay and the east coast. As with everything he did, he had an immense passion for sailing and was exceptional at it. Bruce and Neal took sailing lessons with him when they were only six years old. They also worked, sanded, and painted the boats, which brought them together as a team. They sailed hundreds of times with their dad off Newport. Bruce fondly recalls that sailing and working with his dad was a life lesson that greatly helped him and his brother grow from childhood to adulthood.


Howard was a fair and impartial parent. Though he could be strict, he set a good example and taught his children the value of being independent in both thought and action. Howard also taught his boys that there wasn’t a goal they couldn’t achieve. Through example he instilled his philosophy of honesty, integrity, and hard work. His son Bruce felt that his independence, which he considers a cornerstone of his personality, was clearly guided by Howard's unique influence. Howard was proud of his sons and delighted that they were close to each other and had such a wonderful relationship—another aberration in today's turbulent world.


Howard was also a world traveler in the 1960s and told many stories about his jobs with different government agencies and foreign governments in the field of communication. Howard had the remarkable distinction of having worked for both Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion at one point in his career.


Howard wrote poetry and many of his poems won awards. In addition, he had many books published. Interestingly, Judaism celebrates life and emphasizes living. Even the Mourners' Kaddish has no reference to death. In that spirit, the following passage has relevance to Howard:


Let none of you weep for me. Especially you with whom I’ve smiled. Nor bow down your head in utter grief. Put on no mourning, as if the pall induces forgetfulness and conceal all we’ve done together. We have lived: Remember! Say not that I have died, that this is death. Say that I have lived, enjoying each mortal breath. We have learned and labored and wrought. What our hands found to do, we sought in quest to rise to nobler height. My life was blessed in the living. My death was hallowed because of giving. Life to me was a challenge. I was so happy to live.


May the soul of Howard Prescott rest in eternity and in peace. Amen.


Originally published in TAPS, Summer 2013

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