January 18, 2011

Community honors Howe

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

VASSALBORO -- Charles "Chip" Howe spent much of his life training cadets to enter law enforcement and children to enter adulthood.

click image to enlarge

HONOR: Chief of Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming hands a folded American flag to Jane Howe, widow of retired Lt. Charles Howe, during a funeral at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro on Monday. Trooper Howe passed away last week.

Staff photo by David Leaming

And while the lessons, for cadets and children, could be painful, they were always delivered with the same underlying motivation: caring.

"No matter where he was or what he was doing, he wasn't afraid to slow down and do what was right," said Howe's daughter, Christine Howe. "My dad was an incredible man."

Chip Howe, 59, who died Jan. 12 after battling a rare neurological disease, was honored Monday during a memorial service held at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. Howe served the Maine State Police for 31 years, the last 18 in the training division.

"He played a hand in the training of every police officer and state trooper in Maine from 1987 to his retirement in 2005," said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Howe returned to the academy building in his retirement to work with the state police's computer crimes unit.

"This is Chip's life work," said State Police Maj. Raymond Bessette, looking around the academy building during memorial services Monday attended by hundreds of family, friends, law enforcement officers and state dignitaries, including Gov. Paul LePage. "This is what he created."

Howe enjoyed a number of sports -- including running, biking, hiking and skiing -- and he encouraged physical fitness in his recruits and co-workers.

So great was Howe's passion for fitness that an exercise room at the academy was named in his honor.

But that is not necessarily how Howe wanted to be remembered.

"When you think about Chip, the first thought that comes to mind is fitness," Bessette said, but "I think he would prefer if the first thing that came to mind would be his love of family."

Christine Howe said her father was always a teacher at heart.

His technique, often, was to challenge those under his instruction with difficult and uncomfortable tasks, she said.

"He always put me into situations where I could excel and build confidence," she said.

Chip Howe was always the biggest supporter of his cadets -- and his children. Regardless of where they lived or what they were doing, Chip Howe made every cross country meet his daughter ever ran in.

"He often ran to the middle of the course, camera in hand, to cheer me on in the toughest parts," Christine Howe said.

Chip Howe was a teacher at heart. That meant remaining calm and offering positive instruction even in the face of extreme frustration.

"Those who met Chip know he never had a cross word to say about anybody," Bessette said. "He was the most positive man you could ever meet."

Chip Howe attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and later studied physics at the University of Maine.

Howe, who joined the Maine State Police in 1974, was named Trooper of the Year in 1983, just a few years before he was transferred to the academy. Howe was promoted to lieutenant in charge of training in 1995.

Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming said Howe was instrumental in combining the municipal and state academies in 2001.

"There were hard feelings on both sides," Fleming said. "He worked hard to make it a success."

Howe turned that effort into the computer crime lab, tracking down those who prey on children using the Internet. Howe continued to work in declining health, well past a point that would have made most men quit.

Fleming recalled the last time he saw Howe. Fleming walked into the crime lab where Howe was seated at his desk. The lieutenant strained to rise for the colonel, who told Howe to remain seated. It may have been the only order Howe ever disobeyed.

"A colonel was in the room and a trooper was going to stand in recognition," Fleming said.

The Tribute is a regular feature of the Morning Sentinel in which friends, relatives and colleagues remember the life story of a departed member of our community. If you know someone who is worthy of a tribute, contact Staff Writer Craig Crosby.

Craig Crosby--621-5642

ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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