When he retired to the Ozarks in the early 1990s, Burt Howard became a fixture every summer at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. For 20 years, he was the tournament’s transportation director.
So when he recently passed away, his daughters thought of this idea: Instead of dressing him in a military uniform, let him lay in rest in PCCC attire – wearing a volunteer shirt and holding his favorite hat, signed by none other than PGA legend Payne Stewart.
His graveside service with full military honors was Monday at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Springfield.
“Putting him in a suit would be ridiculous,” said Karen Cavalli, his daughter. “The only way I see him is in his golf shirt and shorts.”
“That’s Dad,” said his other daughter, Cynthia Ritchie. “He loved the tournament.”
Howard passed away on May 18 at age 88. The Kansas native was a World War II veteran and later worked for the U.S. Treasury Department as a special agent in the Intelligence Division of the IRS. He and his wife, Elnora May Coonrod, moved to the Ozarks after retirement.
That’s when Howard became involved with the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. Back then, it was the Greater Ozarks Open of the Ben Hogan Tour, which is now the PGA’s Web.com Tour. The tournament has long relied on an army of 1,000-plus volunteers.
“He talked about it all the time,” Cavalli said. “He made little rules, including that you couldn’t be 80 and drive (for the PCCC). And when he turned 80, he had to follow his own rule. But he still made sure to be at the tournament.”
“After my mom’s passing, it’s probably what kept him going,” Cavalli added. “Even when he couldn’t do it, he still wanted to be out there. He absolutely loved golf.”
Howard’s positive impact for the PCCC was underscored Tuesday. That’s when Tournament Chair Sharyn Wagoner got choked up during a meeting of charity directors as she announced Howard’s passing.
“Burt was a special guy. He loved the tournament so much, and we loved him back,” Wagoner said. “He ran transportation for many years and, when age prevented him from doing that, he continued to help in other ways. We will miss him.”
Howard is survived by daughter Karen Cavalli and her husband Robert and their children, Amy Henrickson and Kelly Cavalli; daughter, Cynthia Ritchie and her husband Kelvin and their daughter, Samantha Ritchie; two brothers, Eugene Howard and Michl Howard; and seven nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions can be made to Least of These, Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, MO and The Kitchen, Inc.