I will never forget the day in September 2019, when my husband and I finished taking the last of our pictures in Jonah’s Run Cemetery, before starting our trip back to Kansas City, and slowly, in drives a car with a gentleman coming out to greet us. After brief exchanges, and he realized that I was the g-g niece of Hiram McKay, Howard sputtered, “We’re Cousins!,” and we both burst into smiles of joy! What Fun!! Haha! Howard soon began describing the history of the McKays and Colletts, took us to the Moses McKay farmhouse for a history tour, and then to the Mount Holly Cemetery. I was thoroughly and utterly delighted to have discovered more relatives, astounded to learn about the history of the area, but most of all, blessed to have experienced Howard and Barbara. What a remarkable man, couple, and life. I am so, so grateful to God, that I got the chance to meet up with Howard, connect with the Ohio McKays, and to share just a little bit of what you all already know to be true of this man. It is my honor to remember him with you.
I believe it was 2010 , when I was sorting thru my mother’s books and discovered the book, New Burlington, the life and death of an American village. Inside were clippings of the Collett-McKay reunions. I was intrigued enough to Google Howard Doster who wrote the article to see if he could tell me more about the Colletts. My mother was an only child and had been a Collett but we did not know much about the family. My mother had died in 1996 and I wanted some connection to the family I didn’t really know well. I found a phone number and called Howard and he could not have been nicer. As far as he was concerned , I was a long lost cousin . Since the reunion was some months away, I decided that my husband and I would drive from our home in Virginia to Ohio to meet my relatives. When we arrived in town on the Friday , Howard insisted we come to the farm and meet up. He then proceeded to direct us to every cemetery that held a Collett relative and told us all the details. It was amazing to learn all of the stories connected to our family. Howard, Barbara and Bob and I went out to dinner that evening and we had an amazing conversation. On the Sat, we sat with Howard’s family and met so many new faces. The weekend was a delight and the pleasure of meeting Howard and his family was beyond my expectations. I had come with a family tree in hand to prove my connection and came away with treasured friends. Several years later, I brought my daughter, Amanda Collett Corrie who was at the time working for the State Dept. It was magical for her to meet all the Colletts. My husband and I attended the 150th reunion and again Howard made us feel like family and we were invited back to there house for their family gathering. I have never met someone so full of life, so much joy, and a true zest for living. Howard is a true example of how we all should strive to live our lives. I will always remember the entire Doster family for giving me a slice of where I came from. We will miss Howard but will have the most wonderful memories of the reunions where we shared his company.
We will all miss Howard and his “What fun!” emails. I hoped and thought he would live forever! When I was in elementary at Harveysburg, I was so proud to have cousins (Howard and Robert) playing basketball (the school’s only competitive sport – except track) and playing in the marching band. We went to school together, to Jonah’s Run Baptist church together, and enjoyed family get-togethers.
Later, it was going to Ohio State football games (once a year) with my parents to see Howard play in the band. Sometimes, when he came home from OSU, we played bridge with my parents.
Then, when I was at Ohio State, I even babysat for them in married students’ housing. Howard enjoyed my being Barbara Doster #1, with his wife Barbara Doster #3. Even more amazing, Barbara Gibbs Doster had been named Outstanding Woman of Ohio State University – and I received the same honor!
His interest in genealogy was amazing, and he was enthusiastic about Dan Collett’s being my route into Daughters of the American Revolution. So many of us will miss him!
I am the webmaster of our family website “The Robert Mackay Clan” which has a section devoted to our Collett-McKay Picnic. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Cousin Howard for many years. I am grateful I was able to interview him for a couple of videos to go with the write-up he always submitted about the Picnic.
I am including a link to one of them:
What Fun! Howard Doster
Reflections on a Life Lived with Passion
By his daughter, Anne Glaze, February 2020
We all know Howard’s tag line for life, “What Fun!” Howard lived life in high gear; full speed ahead no matter what. His passion sometimes caused him to butt heads with folks, but his passion – for everything he believed in – propelled him forward. Fun, for Howard, often meant turning an idea over in his head until he could express it as concisely as possible. Most often, Fun meant taking a genuine, personal interest in every person he met.
I’ve had the privilege to walk alongside both of my parents these past several years as the effects of time have caught up with them. Throughout Howard’s cancer and Barbara’s progressing dementia, they have continued their life’s work of being genuinely interested in other persons – that’s why we’re all here. Somehow, sometime, something they said or did touched each one of us personally. And, we’re grateful for having walked this way with them for a time.
Some will remember conversations about farming, genealogy, or local history. Some will remember Howard’s passionately held opinions… and Barbara’s wonderful smile to balance it all. Some will remember his passion for playing ball – baseball, basketball, and until recently, softball. And most of us will remember his seemingly endless energy to think up another “C- idea.”
You each remember a story about Howard, and always with Barbara close by. I hope you’ll share your memories with us at www.thefunisintherun.com or send them in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.