Howard was born near the village of Ottertail, Minnesota, on March 14, 1925, to Christopher and Elna (Olson) Carlson. That same year, his parents bought and moved to his father’s birthplace, a homestead near Parkers Prairie, Minnesota. Howard attended Rural School District 99. He graduated from Parkers Prairie High School in 1943. He had already begun raising turkeys and doing pedigree work. He worked his way through college at the University of Minnesota by doing custom baling, working on a Montana ranch, raising laying hens and selling eggs, shipping flax straw, and selling seed wheat. While at the University, Howard was active in the AGR Fraternity. In 1950, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business from the University of Minnesota.
On June 17, 1950, Howard married Theora (Teddi) Dalager, at the Barsness Lutheran Church, near Glenwood, Minnesota. He began working for Doughboy Mills as a feed salesman, and soon moved on to a position at Faribo Turkey Processing Plant as assistant general manager. This was one of the first plants in the US to freeze whole turkeys. He started consulting local turkey growers to start their own turkey processing plants. In 1956, he moved to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, to build a turkey processing plant for local growers, an endeavor which resulted in the highly successful West Central Turkeys, still in operation today. As general manager, he pioneered state-of-the-art processing techniques, such as injecting basting fluids into birds, a cutting and boning operation, and roasting birds before selling.
Howard helped to organize the Fergus Falls Junior College Foundation and served on the advisory board. He served the Pelican Rapids Schools as president of the Parent Teacher Association and headed the Scholarship Foundation. He was instrumental in getting American Field Service into the Pelican Rapids High School, whereby local students could study abroad while students from other countries studied in Pelican Rapids. He was a member and former Council president at Trinity Lutheran Church. He helped reactivate and served as president of the Pelican Rapids chapter of Rotary International.
In 1960, Howard helped organize and was secretary of Pelican Buildings, Inc, which built an estimated three million square feet of livestock buildings. In 1963, he organized and became secretary of Feed Producers’ Association, manufacturing livestock and poultry feeds. In 1966, he organized a family corporation which built a mobile home park in Pelican Rapids. In 1969, he helped organize Empro Corporation, a distributor of foam insulating chemicals. In 1973, he incorporated the family turkey operation, Carpro, Inc, which raised up to 150,000 turkeys (four million pounds) annually. In 1975, he built a feed mill on the family farm, which became United Feeds.
In 1986, Howard traveled to mainland China to discuss a marketing agreement for Chinese turkey production. He was a member of Minnesota Bi-Pac, a political action committee for independent businesses. He was a long-term member of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council; Farm Credit Advisory Board; Minnesota Poultry, Butter, and Egg Association; and the National Turkey Federation Executive Council.
Howard and Teddi welcomed seven children into their family. He was a loving and encouraging dad and took pride in their many accomplishments. He and Teddi loved traveling for business and pleasure, visiting a total of forty-nine states and twenty-two countries on five continents. In later years, he spent countless hours restoring antique tractors, a 1949 Ford convertible, and his pride and joy, a 1940s –era Railway Express Truck. A highlight of every year was the Rollag Steam Threshers’ Reunion, where he displayed and drove his restored vehicles. Deer hunting and fishing expeditions with friends, sons, and grandsons ranked high on his list of good times. In 1976, he built a cabin on West Silent Lake, where he eventually learned to relax with his children and grandchildren. In his retirement, he loved spending winters in Alamo, Texas. Howard is famous for being able to start a conversation with anyone he meets, and, in the process, find at least one point of connection!
Howard was highly respected in his community, but that respect reached an exceptional level among his family. His lovely wife of 64 years, Teddi, preceded him in death in December 2014. He is survived by his significant other, Judy Peterson of Alexandria, MN. He is also survived by his seven children, Sherry (Mark) Brickzin of Blue Earth, MN, and their children, Laura (Brian) Fredrickson, and John; Brian (Cindy) of Rochester, MN, and their sons, Peter (Becky), Andrew (Dieta), and Michael (Sara); Randy (Mary) of Wahpeton, ND, and their children, Erin (Nate) Warthen, Jared (Nikki), Heidi (Justin) Wiertzema, and Liesl; Craig (Linda) of Fargo, ND, and their children, Matthew, Michelle (Ben) DeHaven, and Justin; Karen (Chuck) Engler, of Fargo, and their children, Jessica and Evan; Carol (Brian) Schuster, of Fargo, and their children, David (Sara), Christopher, Daniel (fiancée Fate), and Melanie; and Gary (Marliese) of Morrisville, Vermont, and their children, Levi, Gabriel, and Eliana. Great–grandchildren are Elliott, Zachary, Raina, Solomon, Mae, Everett, Henrik, Evangeline, Alexandra, Jack, Anika, David, Makayla, and Wentworth. Also surviving are his brothers Warren (Judy) and Darrel (Marge) Carlson, sister Gloria Butler, sister-in-law, Ione Johnson and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation: Saturday, November 3, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, MN.
Funeral Service: 11:00 a.m., Saturday, November 3, 2018, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.
Clergy: Pastor Scott Block and Pastor David Schuster
Burial: Pelican Valley Cemetery, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.
Funeral Home: Larson Funeral Home, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.
Online memories and condolences may be shared at larsonfuneralpelicanrapids.com.