Doris Howard Obituary (10/16/1932 – 12/14/2021) – Old Lyme, CT

Old Lyme – Jean Murphy Howard, one of the great local volunteers and a brilliant teacher, gardener, hostess, cook and talker, died on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 at the age of 89 at Massachusetts General Hospital from a short illness. She had recently moved to Plymouth, Mass., To be near her daughter after spending more than two decades as a full-time resident of Old Lyme.

Born Doris Jean Murphy on October 16, 1932 to James Russell Murphy and Doris Haines Murphy, Jean (she hated “Doris”) lived for many years at the Hawks Nest Beach cottage which she transformed into a beautiful home. She was best known locally for her volunteer work at the Nearly New Consignment Store in Old Lyme, associated with St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, where she did much of the data entry and tagging up to the latter. month. The store grossed tens of thousands of dollars each year to help support the church.

She also spent many hours leading the efforts to beautify the church as one of the most active members of the garden committee, and during her time here she became a master gardener by taking a series of courses. through the UConn extension service.

She also spent thousands of hours in the church’s sewing group making dresses for girls in Haiti and, during the pandemic, making dozens of colorful masks for the community on her old sewing machine. Singer. Many of her dresses are still hanging in St. Ann’s, waiting for the time when overseas travel won’t be so difficult.

Additionally, she worked tirelessly for a nonprofit called Days for Girls which brought women’s sanitation supplies to remote places around the world, and she was a big supporter of the Chelly Foundation who did charitable work. in Cambodia, named after a longtime friend who taught him to sew many years ago. She gave an inspiring speech about their friendship at a Chelly Foundation fundraiser a few years ago in New York City.

Jean has always been the first to take on a challenge, and nothing has ever stopped her. She was one of the most determined people you could meet and was quite opinionated, but she was never pushy or arrogant. She always supported the interests of her children and grandchildren and inevitably attended the events that were important to them.

In addition, she was widely read and could converse on a wide range of topics, from popular music to sports to politics. Jean was very disappointed with the direction taken by the country in recent years because she could never excuse the belligerence or the lie of anyone, including politicians.

Jean has lived a fascinating and varied life, from her early childhood as the daughter of an accomplished tax lawyer from Washington, DC, who then argued a case in the United States Supreme Court.

Jean was an excellent student, winning a national high school journalism competition. She spent WWII on her grandfather’s farm in Arlington, Virginia, while her father spent extended periods in England, where he ran the X-2 Counterintelligence Agency for the Office of Strategic Services, the United States’ premier spy agency.

“We always had spies for dinner on Sunday nights,” she said.

During and after the war, the always reliable Jean helped several high profile spies, including the famous Jim Angleton, as a babysitter. She laughed later as she chatted on the phone and heard a series of clicks, indicating that the device had been bugged by the FBI. “Those poor guys who have to listen to all my teenage crushes,” she laughed.

Jean graduated from Wellesley College in 1954 with a major in French. In Wellesley, she was well known for winning the lead role in most dramatic productions. In 2019, Jean attended his 65th Wellesley Reunion, rubbing shoulders with younger colleagues Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine Albright.

After graduating from Wellesley, she worked for a year at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where her typing and language skills came in handy. She spent a year at Yale University for graduate school before marrying Harvard Business School graduate Kingston Lee Howard in February 1956. They had met in a Wellesley-Harvard mixer a few years earlier. King and Jean’s marriage was announced on national television by famous broadcaster Arthur Godrey, who was Jean’s godfather, family friend and childcare client.

King and Jean first settled in the Boston area before purchasing a home in Lexington, Massachusetts, where they raised two children. When the children grew up, Jean began teaching elementary and high school French in Lexington and, later, in Atlanta, Georgia. She was natural, using her creativity and dramatic flair to engage students of all ages.

King was president of the Brigham’s restaurant chain and later became vice president of Star Market, head of Howard Johnson’s international hotel division and president of Days Inn. Jean set out to support her husband’s business career, hosting and dating many prominent businessmen in Boston from the 1960s to the 1990s, translating business letters and mastering Lotus 1-2-3, one of the first accounting programs.

Jean took care of all the French translations as King established his Euro Disney office south of Paris to help attract American hotel executives to the massive project. She traveled regularly to help King organize parties and events there.

She was the mainstay of her husband’s consultancy, International Management Services, and helped him prepare reports, market analysis and business correspondence. She was one of the first people in the country to become a certified hotel manager. She later helped her daughter Debbie for several years at Benchmark Senior Living by creating model rooms that gave a warm feel to the company’s assisted living facilities.

Jean enthusiastically embraced domestic life with the same energy that she had invested in her studies and professional life. She studied French cuisine thanks to Julia Child, and was also very interested in oriental cuisine. But most of his culinary approach was inherited from his Southern parents, one of whom owned a restaurant in Washington, DC.

Everyone loved and appreciated the warm kindness of Jean’s hospitality, whether it was in the condominium she later acquired on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston or in her Old Lyme beach house that she alternately referred to as “Howard.” Hotel ”or“ Camp Howard ”. Jean moved permanently to the Old Lyme house a few years after her husband’s death in 1993, and she regularly received her family and friends there, all striking up a friendly conversation.

The family are currently preparing a cookbook based on many of Jean’s recipes, which included the best Christmas cookies and applesauce in the world. His apricot pie recipe was recently featured in a Lee White column in the local Times newspapers.

Jean leaves many bereaved friends and relatives, including his son Lee Howard and partner Libby Friedman of Waterford; daughter Debbie Howard of Plymouth, Mass .; one brother, James R. “Chip” Murphy II of Cedar Springs, Michigan; a niece, Heather Murphy, also of Michigan; and grandsons, Evan and Nathan Howard of East Lyme; and James (wife Becca) and Scott Baldassari of Massachusetts.

Cartmell-Davis Funeral Home in Plymouth, Mass., Is in charge of the arrangements.

A memorial service and celebration of life for John Howard is scheduled for 11 am on Wednesday, December 29 at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 82 Shore Road, Old Lyme. A reception at the church will follow. Donations can be sent in John’s memory to Days for Girls ( or the Chelly Foundation (, or can be mailed c / o Lee Howard, 21 Lloyd Road, Waterford, CT 06385.

Jean will be buried next to her husband King at Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme.

Posted by The Day on December 19, 2021.


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