Howard
Howard N. Light 1917 -2007 Known as Grandpa to his family and Howard to the many friends he made through the years of service he gave to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, passed away on November 20. He is survived by his beloved wife Inez, his son Ron and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His warm, loving, giving spirit will be sorely missed along with that fabulous sense of humor. Howard served in many city and state positions while at the VFW including Chairman of the State Veteran's Committee. He spent 40 years as a service officer where he would assist disabled veterans who were having trouble receiving their benefits. He also worked with hundreds of companies in the Los Angeles area to provide jobs for unemployed veterans. He was very active in Post 3261 in Gardena. Services will be held at Rice Mortuary, 5310 Torrance Blvd, Tuesday November 27th at 11:00AM. Donations in lieu of flowers to the VFW National Home, www.vfwnationalhome.org, The National Home is a multi-faceted facility created to care for the developmental, social and spiritual needs of the children and families of our Veterans.

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  1. Born September 11, 1917 in Lake Mahopac in upstate NY. The Light family was a farm family in rural NY. Howard was the oldest son of Lonnie and Carolyn and the older brother to Harold. He went to a small rural school house, graduating in 1934, with a graduating class of eight students. In his grade school years he worked the farm after school and later worked any odd job he could find to help support the family. The family lost the farm during the 1930 depression. Howard was in high school and the responsibility of the family became his. His brother was mentally and physically disabled and therefore unable to help 100%. In 1933 his mother was injured in a car accident that left her disabled. His mother ran a boarding house and Dad provided the outside income to help the family. He worked as a pin setter in a local bowling alley, loaded trucks at the local hardware, feed and grain stores plus as a day laborer on other farms, especially when the crops came in. He would earn a $.25 – $1.00 a day. It gave them money for clothes and other essentials. After graduation, he left home to find work always sending money home. He enlisted in the Army in 1939. Partly for a steady income and partly because he could see what was coming in Europe and Asia. As war approached, he rose to the rank of sergeant. Early on he was recruited into a new secret project …. Radar. During the war he became an instructor and eventually ran a radar early detection post in Puerto Rico. After the war he came to Los Angeles where the new electronic industry was blooming. He worked at Raytheon for a while but couldn’t take the inside office environment. So he left Raytheon and went back to the earth. Always the farmer, he took the only job that would let him work with plants and soil. He became a gardener. In 1946, through mutual friends, he met the love of his life, May Allen, known to us all as Inez. She had moved from Tennessee to California and worked as a nurse. They were married on June 30, 1946. He remained devoted to her for over 61 years. In 1948 he bought his first and only home in Hawthorne. Ron was born in 1947 and Rick followed in 1950. Always a man of his word, his first gardening accounts were charged $25 / month. He never asked for a raise and generally turned them down when offered. So his accounts always found a way around his stubbornness. One account was a Dr Gene Hessel who provided free medical care and assisted in any hospitalization. Our summer vacations were in the Mountains at Crestline in the Hessel cabin. Of course, dad would paint, clean or repair anything that needed to be done. Another customer owned a meat packing company and every three months we would receive a side of beef as a bonus. Another account was the owner of Beaudry Candies; we never suffered for sweets around the house. Bonuses flowed in all the time, from clothes to TV’s to cars when ours broke down. Many had to sell them to him, at ridicules prices, to assuage his pride. A particularly important client, who later became one of his best friends, was Rudy Yarak. He was one of the riches men in LA. They became close personal friends. Dad later in life helped him combat depression. Rudy always managed to get to us little gifts that were the things dad couldn’t buy. Dad worked every day from 7AM to dark. When we needed extra money he took on more accounts. We were not rich but we always had food and clothes and whatever we needed. In 1960, Dad went to work for the LA School District. This was to provide a larger stable income, health and retirement benefits. He retired from LASUD in 1984. But true to his commitment, he continued to maintain several of his original clients until they moved away or passed on. In some respects, many of you knew him better than I did. There is so much of his life that revolved around the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I was not a major part of that life. Many of you here today will be able to tell numerous stories about him. I hope today you will do so with the others here, just to let them know the type of man he was. He was a quiet man, until you crossed one of his core beliefs. He was outspoken and firm in his resolve. Robert Johnson will tell you how firm he was when they clashed over the direction of the VFW. Robert, one of his best friends, was also one of his firmest rivals. He didn’t need to tell “war stories” or reminisce about family. Everyday was a new day and it brought new challenges. He couldn’t change the past but he could affect the future. He just worked hard and let God provide. He had a passion for reading. He always had a book, newspaper or magazine within reach. He loved history. He could tell you details of events that had shaped our nation, people, and places and the reason why. I know I acquired my passion for history from him and have passed that passion to my children. He loved baseball and would attend games of the “old” Pacific Coast League. He loved the LA Angels and Hollywood Stars. That love affair carried over to the California Angels. His service to his fellow Veterans began there. He would attend games frequently taking a disabled veteran with him. One of the most memorable stories involves a Vet blinded on D DAY that he took to the game and sat with him calling pitch by pitch — a personal announcer. He took me and my brother to several games a year. Through him I have a true love and passion for the game. In 1954 he helped start the Hawthorne Little League. We played on a dirt field on land lent to us by the school. Back then we had to erect and dismantle the field every year. The field had stands but you could also park your car along the foul lines and outfield fences. When it got too dark to play they just turned on the car headlights so we could finish the game. All of this led to his service in the VFW and American Legion. He was a lifetime member. He served his post, the LA District and the State of California. Many of his longest and closest friends were fellow post members. I don’t have the time to list you all. Some are present many have passed away, but Bob Day, Louie Neiz and Robert Johnson head that list. Please forgive me if I don’t run the list longer. Those here today know he loved you all and he will remain in your hearts and memories forever. He worked tirelessly for our Veterans. He visited the various VA hospitals in the area weekly. He collected books, radios, TV’s …. anything that could be seen, heard, read or repaired. These would be used by the vets for rehabilitation or job training tools. He was a VFW service officer. Over the years he has helped 100’s of Vets who were having trouble getting their benefits from the Veterans Administration. One time he helped a retired Vet, who had been injured in a traffic accident and had been laying in an emergency ward for 18 hours untreated, get into the Long Beach VA hospital. He did this with just a few calls and the Vet was in the VA hospital in 4 hours and in surgery 2 hours later. Without treatment he would have been paralyzed for the rest of his life. He was a member of the VFW statewide employment committee. He worked with 100’s of businesses in LA to get veterans jobs. Through his service he has helped and touched 1000’s of lives. In the 70’s he arranged for free therapy sessions to be held at several posts in LA to provide mental health care for our Vietnam vets who were having trouble in there lives. These sessions covered post combat stress long before it was identified as a legitimate health illness, drug rehab when it was more popular to be a user, unemployment, family and homelessness. I could go on here for a long time but let’s just say, if you served this country he would help you, period. He loved American and served her well. He is a member of the “great generation”. Men and women who were simple honest people, who were forged by the depression, two World Wars and many conflicts around the world. People that made this country the best in the world. The envy of all of those who wish to do us harm. People who, when their country called, stood tall, shoulder to shoulder, to protect us all so we could sleep peacefully at night. We will miss them all, but most of all I will miss him. On a lighter note, he would always enter a room with “here I am you lucky people” and we were every time. He loved his wife and family devotedly. He was our strongest critic and strongest supporter. He was proud of every accomplishment I, my brother, his grand children and great grand children ever made. He attended our baseball games, soccer games and many other events. Not as much as he would like, yes we were jealous of the VFW some times, but often enough, we knew he was there. He loved playing cards and was a fixture at the after post meeting poker games. At home or with friends there were the all night pinochle or canasta games. But the best of all were our family “31” games. He would just sit there and listen to all of us just talk, interacting with one another. He said he learned more about the grandkids then than at any other time. In closing, I will say that I am proud to be his son. I know my brother has welcomed him home. I know he is at peace and watching over all of us. Dad, you will live on forever in our hearts and memories. Dad, we all thank you for being a part of our lives.

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