Pioneering businessman, Samuel Howard, passes away

Samuel Howard

Renowned businessman and innovator of the health industry, Samuel Howard, passed away Friday, July 10. Howard, who was 81, had been fighting Parkinson’s disease.

Samuel Houston Howard was born on May 8, 1939 in Marietta, Oklahoma to Houston and Nellie Gaines Howard. Howard received his B.S. degree in business administration from Oklahoma State University in 1961, and his M.A. degree in economics from Stanford University in 1963.

From 1963 to 1967, Howard worked as a financial analyst with General Electric Company. In 1966 and 1967, he served as a White House Fellow and assistant to U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg. From 1967 to 1968, Howard worked as director of educational computer services at Howard University and as a consultant to the U.S. Health, Education, and Welfare Department. He was then named vice president of finance, secretary and treasurer of TAW International Leasing Corporation, where he worked from 1968 until 1972. In 1972, he founded and served as chairman, president/CEO of Phoenix Holdings, Inc. and Phoenix Communications Group, Inc., which owned and operated broadcasting properties in Tennessee, Kansas and Mississippi.

Howard was hired as vice president of finance and business at Meharry Medical College in 1973. He then joined Hospital Affiliates International, Inc. as vice president of planning of the INA Health Care Group in 1977 and was promoted to vice president and treasurer in December of 1980. Howard was hired by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) as vice president/treasurer in 1981 and was promoted to senior vice president of public affairs in October of 1985. He resigned from HCA in 1988 in order to chair Phoenix Holdings, Inc. fulltime. In 1993, Howard became chairman, president/CEO of Xantus Corporation, an investor owned company that owns and operates health maintenance organizations.

Howard had been a member, board director or committee member of numerous organizations, including Nashville Electric Service; National Urban League; Leadership Nashville Foundation; and United Way, among others. Howard was founder and director of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, chairman of the board of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, and trustee of Fisk University. He served on the Governor’s TennCare Roundtable in 1995 and the Boy Scouts Inner City Task Force Committee in 1988.

In 1994, Howard received the Nashville NAACP Branch Image Award for Lifetime Achievement and the NCCJ Human Relations Award. Howard received the Outstanding CEO Award among the 100 largest privately held businesses in Nashville in 1997 and the Nashville Business Journal’s 1995 Small Business Executive of the Year Award. He was honored as Nashvillian of the Year in 1998 by the Easter Seal Society of Tennessee and as Philanthropist of the Year in 1997 by the National Society of Fundraising Executives. In 2010, Howard received the White House Fellows John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn the news of my dear friend’s passing,” said Clifton Harris, CEO at Urban League of Middle Tennessee. “Sam Howard was a man of principle, patriotism, and conviction, whose loss will be deeply felt throughout Middle Tennessee and the Urban League family.

“I will never forget my dear friend. I join in offering my condolences to his wife Karan and his children and the entire Howard family.”

Howard is survived by his wife Karan and two children, Anica Lynne Howard and Samuel H. Howard II.

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