Ellis M. Howard, a Green Beret in Vietnam who became a union leader and explosives technician at Aberdeen Proving Ground, died Thursday of leukemia at his home. He was 58 and lived in Pikesville.
Born in Evergreen, Ala., he moved with his family to Baltimore in his youth and graduated from Douglass High School in 1960. He joined the Army in 1962 and served as a Green Beret in the Special Forces in the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1965.
"He was very proud, especially of being able to jump from planes. That was very exciting," said his wife, the former Ella Fulton of Summerton, S.C.
After his military service, Mr. Howard worked seven years for Western Electric Co. before rejoining the Army as a civilian employee at the proving ground in Harford County.
He worked there 25 years as an explosives technician and as an equipment specialist testing ammunition.
He represented his fellow workers as a vice president of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 2424.
"He represented people in grievances and arbitrations. He enjoyed helping people because it made him feel good, especially when he won the case," said his wife, who described her husband as very outspoken.
He retired in September.
Known to his friends and family as "T," a nickname given to him by his mother, Mr. Howard was a fan of sports, especially of horse racing. He also enjoyed coaching Little League, dancing, jazz and spending time with his closest friends, whom he called his "Rat Pack Buddies."
He was a member of St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
His marriage to the former NicholasCarter ended in divorce.
In addition to his wife of 24 years, he is survived by two sons, Duane E. and Denard E. Howard, and a stepson, David Fulton, all of Baltimore; his father, Clanford Howard of Dayton, Ohio; his mother, Louella Craig, and stepfather, the Rev. Essiah Isaiah Craig, both of Baltimore; sisters Brenetta Ellis of Baltimore and Iris Bailey of Ashburn, Va., brother Arcell Craig of Baltimore, and two grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John A.M.E. Church, 810 N. Carrollton Ave.
Sun staff writer Joan Jacobson contributed to this obituary.