Family, friends remember former Hilton Head Islander Howard Germain

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 22, 2012 

Howard Germain


Thanks to Hank Noble of Bluffton for sharing a story about his friend and former Hilton Head Islander, the late Howard Germain.

It is a blog post by Howard's nephew, Steven Germain of New York. It was posted on Steven's site,

Hank sent it to friends with this note:

"Below is an announcement of the passing of Howard Germain, a founding member of Congregation Beth Yam on Hilton Head and a valued friend for more than 30 years. He tutored (our children) Adam and Sherry, among many others, for their Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah. I spoke this morning to his daughter, Amy. His passing was peaceful, and he said he was ready to move on. He had been in and out of the hospital for several months."

A friend responded to Hank's email: "A true gentleman. He and (his wife) Roseanne lit up every room they ever entered. More than once, I recall her introducing Howard as 'the man with whom I am currently living ...' "

'UNCLE Yoda'

By Steven Germain

Howard Benatar Germain (born June 13, 1924) peacefully on July 19, 2012, at the age of 88 in Santa Barbara, Calif. His daughter Amy Germain and niece Ellen Germain were with him.

In addition to Amy and Ellen, Howard is survived by his son Neal; his grandsons Daniel and Schuyler; granddaughters Alexis and Nicole; daughters-in-law Elisa Germain and Irene Simonian; nephew Steven Germain and his wife, Laura Impert; grand-niece Nina Germain; grand-nephew Will Germain; and by his first wife, Rhoda Rossmoore. Howard was pre-deceased by his wife, Roseanne; sons Andrew and David; brother Lawrence; and sister-in-law Gloria Germain.

Howard was born in Newark, N.J., and was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he attended high school at Brooklyn Poly Prep. He graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and served in the U.S. Army as a meteorologist during World War II. After the war, Howard worked at Germain's Department Store at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street in Brooklyn, a family business started in 1898 by his grandparents, Louis and Ida. He left the retail business and worked in sales in the garment industry, eventually becoming national sales manager for the Flexnit Co.

He retired from Flexnit at age 50 to pursue his interest in something he considered much more significant and meaningful than commerce -- golf. He moved with his wife, Roseanne, to Hilton Head Island to pursue that interest.

On Hilton Head, Howard worked as a part-time mailman, gave Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah lessons and became a U.S. Tennis Association linesman. He officiated on the tennis tour, including the U.S. Open.

During one John McEnroe match that Howard officiated, McEnroe thought Howard missed hearing a net ball and McEnroe glared at Howard. Two weeks later at another match, Howard did not call a ball out that McEnroe thought had just missed the line, leading McEnroe to exclaim at Howard, "Not only are you deaf, you are blind too." Howard said McEnroe was right; he had missed both calls.

Howard and Roseanne rode around Hilton Head on a BMW motorcycle with a sidecar. After 20 years on Hilton Head, Howard and Roseanne moved to Santa Barbara, which Howard described as "paradise," adding that from there "to talk to God was just a local call."

The poet, W.B. Yeats wrote:

"That is no country for old men;

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

a tattered coat upon a stick,


Soul clap its hands and sing."

Howard, your soul clapped its hands and sung to us for 88 years. Long after you're gone, it still will ... every day.

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