MHS Alumni Pledge $25,000 Gift to MISD

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Siblings, Dr. Robert Howard, Ms. Kimberly Howard Willson, and Ms. Mary Kay Howard Bowden pledge a $25,000 gift to Murray High School in honor of their late father, Dr. Russell E. P. Howard.  

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Murray, Ky., Sept. 5----- In honor of the late Dr. Russell E.P. Howard, an MHS alumnus, the  MHS Lobby will be named the Dr. Russell E.P. Howard Lobby in the new entrance of Murray High School through a $25,000 gift from his children and MHS alumni.  Dr. Robert Howard, Kimberly Howard Willson, and Mary Kay Howard Bowden pledged the gift in honor and memory of their late father, Dr. Russell E.P. Howard’s legacy.  

An unveiling and dedication ceremony will be held Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the new entrance of  Murray High School.  All family and friends of the late Howard are invited to attend the dedication ceremony.

“For generations, MHS has provided our family with an exemplary education. Our father was the smartest, bravest, most generous, and loving man that we have ever known. He instilled in us the values of hard work and determination. He believed that with these principles, combined with a great education, anything was possible. He also sincerely loved the people of Murray, and believed that all students were capable of making a positive contribution to the world. We hope that this gift will serve as a resource to enhance education and opportunities for MHS students and encourage them to reach their full potential,” said  Mary Kay Howard Bowden. 

A 1967 MHS graduate, Dr. Howard attributed the superior education received while attending MHS for laying the foundation for his academic and professional success. His teachers fostered his passion for music, zeal for learning, and bestowed a great appreciation and comprehension of the applied sciences.  During his academic career, Dr. Howard enjoyed student government and served as Class President. Named “Most Talented,” by his MHS senior peers, Howard cultivated his musical talents and became an accomplished pianist and guitarist. His high-school rock band, “The Discoteques”  performed an opening act for The Beach Boys.  Howard’s knack for music was inherited from his father, the late Walter Rudolph Howard, the former Minister of Music for First Baptist Church in Murray.  

Dr. Russ Howard attended Murray State University and then earned his medical degree from the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine. He was appointed Chief Fellow in cardiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.   He was a distinguished Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and of the American College of Cardiology. His work and contribution to cardiology is published in the prestigious, Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Russ Howard was the first cardiologist to practice in Murray.  During his career, he founded the Murray Heart Center, which provided world-class care to the community that he loved.  He served as Chief of Staff at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, president of the Calloway County Medical Society, and was the first medical director and founding board member of Murray’s Angels Community Clinic.  He considered education, determination, and community service to be paramount and essential for an impactful life. 

At age forty one, Howard was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which he fought bravely and without complaint for twelve years. Even as his health deteriorated, he maintained the highest level of medical care to his patients.  He often said that his personal suffering gave him more compassion for his patients and made him a better physician.

Dr. Russ Howard and his wife, Cynthia Sawyer, loved Murray and were pleased to watch their children thrive at MHS.  Their son,  Dr. Robert Sawyer Howard, graduated in 1997.  Like his father, Robert also served as Class President and Student Council President.  Their daughters, Mary Kay Howard Bowden and Kimberly Howard Willson graduated from MHS in 1998.  Mary Kay served as Class President for four consecutive years and Vice President of Student Council. She was an All-State soccer player and co-captain of the team.   Kimberly was Class Vice President for three consecutive years, a spirited cheerleader, Prom Queen, and Miss Murray High.  

All three siblings received their bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.  Following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Robert Howard also earned his degree in medicine.  He is married to Mallory Rudolph, a 2002 MHS alumnus.  Dr. and Mrs. Robert Howard have two children, Robert Preston (4) and Ben Rudolph (1)   Dr. Robert Howard currently resides in Murray.  He practices psychiatry at Clear Creek Medical and is the Mental Health Director for the VA Clinic in Hopkinsville, Ky.   Mary Kay and Kim earned their Masters in Art in Religion from Yale Divinity School.  Mary Kay currently resides in Houston, Texas with her husband, Brandt Bowden, and four children, Russell Murry (9), Annabelle Sawyer (7), Kimberly Blye (5), and Mayfair Kay (2). Kimberly resides in Memphis, Tenn., with her husband, Drew Willson, and their children, Mary Drew (9), Russell Sanders (7), and Kimberly Clementine (3).  

Dr. Russ Howard shared MHS’s “Tradition of Excellence” with many other family members.  His mother, Ms. Opal Blalock Howard, graduated from MHS in 1935 and taught 6th grade for 18 years. His sister, Judy Howard Carroll (1964), brother-in-law, the late Ed Carroll (1956), nephew, Brian Thomas Carroll (1990) and niece, Kathryn Carroll Payne (1993) also attended MHS.  

Dr. Russ Howard credited his unwavering faith in God and the support of his family as his source of strength throughout his illness. His life and legacy serves as an example for all students, faculty, staff, and community members.  “He demonstrated that you can make a positive impact on the world even through suffering and countless obstacles. He fought for his life so that he could help his patients fight for theirs. With hard work and determination, he provided exceptional medical care to the very people who guided, taught, and encouraged him to pursue his passions,” Bowden said.