Howard Bliss Leavitt of Amherst, died peacefully Oct. 13, 2016, at the age of 95, after a wonderful life of two marriages, children, travel, and an international career spanning almost half a century.
Born in New York City, Howard spent his early years in Beirut, Lebanon as the son of the president of International College, a prep school associated with the American University of Beirut (AUB) which had been founded by his great-grandfather in 1866. Howard came back to the U.S. for a year at Vermont Academy and then on to Dartmouth College, from which he graduated early after the outbreak of World War II. Just after joining the Navy, Howard married his college sweetheart Margaret Mentzer and was soon sent, as a communications officer, to the Pacific island of Saipan where he witnessed the flyover of B-29's on their way to Japan. After the War, Howard earned masters and doctorate degrees in education from Columbia University, and began teaching at Northern Illinois State Teachers College (now Northern Illinois University). Later, Howard and Margaret, along with three sons spent two years in Beirut where he taught at AUB, adding a fourth son for good measure. Returning to the U.S. in the late 50's, the family moved to the Boston area where Howard taught at Boston University. In 1962 he joined the U.S. State Department in the Agency for International Development (USAID) where he spent a number of years in Washington and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, setting up and analyzing U.S. sponsored educational projects around the globe. Recognized as an expert in international education, he became the coordinator of international programs at Pennsylvania State University, soon followed by his return to Washington to work for the World Bank, under the leadership of Robert McNamara. Howard completed his career as a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Throughout his life, Howard loved independence, intellectual accomplishment, and adventure. Along with wife Margaret and his sons he was an avid mountain climber, camper, cave explorer, and power boater. He wrote and published dozens of academic works and wrote and/or edited several books, including, First Encounters, Native Voices on the Coming of the Europeans, in 2010. In his later years Howard became interested in creating art and over a 20 year span produced wonderful oil paintings. After the death of Margaret, in 1997 in Amherst, Howard met and married Joan Ibish, herself an accomplished academician. Together they toured the world from China to the Mediterranean, spending summers at the Leavitt compound on Pine Island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Howard was predeceased by wife Margaret and son Ken Leavitt (Tina). He is survived by wife Joan; sons Hunt Leavitt (Hilary), John Leavitt (Judy Norton), and Don Leavitt (Todd Paine); grandchildren Sarah Leavitt (Kevin Postma), Ben Leavitt, Jennifer Tietjen (Garrett), Lydia Leavitt, Vivian Leavitt and Christopher Leavitt; and two great-granddaughters, both named Caroline. Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Oct. 22, 2016