Acme man’s family helped found the annual Appalachian Wagon Train |
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Patrick Varine

Chart Howard lived for the annual Appalachian Wagon Train, when residents jump back in time and participate in a horse-drawn wagon train through Westmoreland and Fayette counties, traveling during the day and camping at night.

So it was with a heavy heart that wagon-train participants set out in 2019, the event’s 50th anniversary, having discovered that Mr. Howard — the man on whose farm they were camping — had died the night before while sitting on his porch overlooking the campers.

“My dad lived for it,” said Mr. Howard’s daughter, Codie Lynn Howard of Bedford. “He got married with the wagon train and he died with the wagon train. There’s not a time that he was more excited than when he was talking about it, planning it or on it.”

Chart C. Howard of Acme died Sunday, June 16, 2019, of complications from heart failure. He was 58.

Mr. Howard was born Sept. 3, 1960, in Mt. Pleasant, a son of the late William and Gaile White Howard. He attended Mt. Pleasant Area High School.

“He always joked that he quit school, and then a couple months later got a job as the school’s custodian,” his daughter said.

Mr. Howard grew up on his family’s farm.

“Our dad bought and sold horses and farmed,” said Mr. Howard’s brother, Bill of Acme. “We all had our own horses or ponies. At one time, my father had 100 ponies.”

Mr. Howard’s father was one of the wagon train’s founders, and the tradition took deep root.

“To me, that was how I grew up and lived,” his daughter said. “He loved cowboys and watching old John Wayne movies. That’s how he grew up, and he didn’t want to give it up.”

Mr. Howard spent part of his career working for Pepsi-Cola in Kecksburg. However, a heart attack in the early 2000s led him to quit that job and he became self-employed, living on the farm.

Bill Howard said his brother was “an eccentric,” and a particular piece of clothing illustrates it perfectly.

“He wore this leather strap,” his daughter said. “He wore it at an angle strapped to his belt loops. I’ve never seen him without it. He called it his ‘suspender.’ ”

“I think his pants kept falling down,” his brother said. “So one day he went over to the barn and made himself a single suspender. He never went out of his way to spend a lot of money on himself.”

In addition to being a member of the wagon train, Mr. Howard was a member of the Laurel Highlands Horse Pullers Association and the Tri County Horse and Mule Association.

His family said Mr. Howard brought joy to nearly everyone he met.

“If he couldn’t make you laugh, you didn’t know how to laugh,” his brother said. “You could be mad at him and if he’d come to your house, next thing you know, you’d be laughing.”

Mr. Howard is survived by his daughter, Codie Lynn Howard of Bedford; one brother, William Howard of Acme; his sisters, Sue Doak of Blairsville, Jane Gary of Fairhope, Kelly Miller of Greensburg and Kimberly Martz of Donegal; and the mother of his daughter, Linda McGinity of Kecksburg.

Friends will be received from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Clyde Brooks Funeral Home, 146 Municipal Road in Melcroft, where a 10:30 a.m. funeral service will be held on Thursday.

Bill Howard said wagon train members will honor their longtime friend.

“We’re going to bring him back to the farm, put him in his wagon and haul him to the cemetery, and as far as I know, all the wagons are going to follow him,” Bill Howard said.

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