DGT Alumni Association and Pratt Institute alumnus Ronald James Howanich passed away on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Brother Ron, "or the Farmer" as he was nicknamed by fellow members, when in the Spring of 1970 he joined Tau Delta Phi-Tau Sigma Chapter, at the time the undergraduate body of what is now the DGT Alumni Association. Ron was born in Allentown, PA on March 26, 1951 to the late Mike and Stella (Groller) Howanich.
Bro. Ron graduated from Parkland HIgh School and later from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where in 1973 he earned a BA in Industrial Design. He also studied fashion merchandising at the University of California, Fresno.
At the time of his death Ron had recently retired after a four decades-long career designing holiday decorations for store windows and shopping malls in the U.S. and Canada. His design for eight Nutcracker windows at the Carson Pirie Scott and Company Building in Chicago, received the first place award in an international display competition. Chas Martin, a contemporary of Ron's days as a Pratt Student, who also was Ron's Little Brother, recently noted in commenting about Ron's work as an artist working on canvas. "Ron was unique...He had a vision and technique for creating images of cultural icons." Cultural icons captured by Ron on canvas include Holly Woodlawn, Jean Harlow, Michael Jackson, Madame, and Barack Obama.
Among his contemporaries at DGT Alumni Association, Ron is remembered as a dedicated Secretary and Treasurer of Tau Delta Phi-Tau Sigma. He was particularly successful in organizing and leading a fundraising program involving showing movies in Memorial Hall on weekends for Pratt students. The movies were all promoted on campus with elaborate silk screen poster prints which in turn became collectors' items. Ron upgraded the quality of the films being shown and Memorial Hall was often packed with students seated in the isles to see the works of Warhol, Fellini and to view classics and popular movies made by others. Some of featured films included MASH, Fellini's Satyricon, Lonesome Cowboys, TRASH, and Rocky Horror Picture Show. The were many more. Ron's interest also included classic cars, and he variously owned and drove an early 1960s four-door Lincoln convertible, a mid-1950's Cadillac and a 1960s Mercedes. Ron remained a close friend to many. He helped one member to secure a temporary job installing Christmas decorations during the recovery period following the serious recession in 1973 when finding placement in an architectural firm was very difficult. He was known to fly across the country to attend an afternoon birthday party of at least one fellow DGT Alumnus. He remained a close friend with Bro. Ramon Lacomba his roommate in the dorm and also at the fraternity house at 272. Clinton Ave., Brooklyn, NY.
Ron died after a relatively brief, five-month battle with cancer, that was diagnosed at a late stage. He is survived by his sister Linda Galio (Thomas); nieces, nephews, many cousins and his canine love Sheba. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Michael J. Howanich.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11:00 am Monday, April 24, 2017 at Brubaker Funeral Home, Inc., 327 Chestnut ST. Coplay, PA. The viewing will be from 10:00 to 11:00 am. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to an animal rescue of your choice or to the American Cancer Society 3893 Adler Pl #170, Bethlehem, PA 18017.