DR. JOSEPH C. HOWARTH CELEBRATES HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY · Parkinson's Resource Organization




A life of Service and Inspiration

When asked to remark on her husband’s greatest life accomplishment, Peggy Howarth muses that it would be their six children, together with the “survival” of all that raising a large family entail.

            Born in England in 1920, and graduating from the medical school of the University of Manchester, Dr. Howarth began his service during World War II in the British Royal Army Medical Corps. Post war, he came to North America to complete his neurosurgical training at the Cleveland Clinic. Following serving on the Cleveland Clinic neurosurgical staff, he then moved to Florida to begin private practice at the then Orange Memorial Hospital in Orlando, Florida becoming Chief of Staff in 1966.

            Dr. Howarth joined the United States Air Force in 1975, departing with the rank of Colonel to Santa Barbara, California to become the Director of the Neck and Back Clinic of the Samsun Medical Clinic.  During his neurosurgical practice in Santa Barbara, Dr. Howarth and his wife, a Registered Nurse by profession, traveled many years to Mexico to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, the international humanitarian medical non-governmental organization of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.

            Choosing to retire in the year 2000 to the warm climate of Palm Desert, the Howarths went on to enjoy many travels abroad, once choosing to spend a full year in Paris together studying Art History and French.

            Dr. Howarth, at the age of 92, was diagnosed with Vascular Parkinsonism. People with Vascular Parkinsonism often experience a “lower body parkinsonism” and have trouble with walking and maintaining balance – much like people with classic Parkinson's.  However, this diagnosis did not stop the conviction of a man whose life to date had been by its very definition one of service and inspiration.  To wit, a celebration of his 93rd birthday the following year involved an exciting hot air balloon ride!

            In 2017 we were delighted to have found Parkinson’s Resource Organization and their Wellness Village. Through PRO we were referred to a Movement Disorder Specialist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, a boxing program, an optometrist, and even a company that manufactures devices to amplify Dr. Howarth’s voice so we could all hear the important words he has to say.

            In January of this year, months prior to becoming a Centenarian, Dr. Howarth received the diagnosis of Stage 4 throat cancer and was given a prognosis of three months.  Strict quarantining during COVID-19 has been an additional challenge for the Howarths, who most miss visits with their children and grandchildren. However, they remain positive and hopeful.

            When finally asked for one word to describe her husband of 58 years, Peggy Howarth arrived at the descriptor ‘tenacious.’ Dr. Howarth’s life does indeed stand as an example of someone who does whatever is required to accomplish a goal. May the world see more Dr. Howarths.

            “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

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Updated: August 16, 2017