Alice Gayley “Gay” Stone Howard

HowardAlice Gayley “Gay” Stone Howard, 94, on April 4, 2023, in Los Osos, Calif. Gay was born on May 12, 1928, the only child of Emma Skillman Stone and Hosmer Ward Stone, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., and spent many summers backpacking in the Sierra Mountains with her parents. After graduating from University High School in Los Angeles, Gay attended UCLA for a semester. She continued her studies at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., where she met Louis N. Howard. Gay and Louis married on September 8, 1951.

Gay graduated from Swarthmore in 1950. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in June 1951. She graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a doctorate in plant physiology in 1954.

In the late 1950s Gay and Louis moved to the Boston, Mass. area. In 1957, their first child, Astrid, was born. Their second child, Erik, was born in 1960 and died shortly after birth. Emily was born in 1961; Frederick Max was born in 1966; and Holly was born in 1968.

At Swarthmore, Gay began her lifelong connection with Quakers. When she and her husband moved to the Boston area, she began attending Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Mass.) and became a member in the 1970s. From 1978 to 1981 she taught science at Cambridge Friends School. In 1981 Gay, Louis, and the two younger children moved to Tallahassee, Fla. Gay worked in a research lab at Florida State University for the next 20 years.

After the move to Tallahassee, Gay joined the small Quaker worship group. She and others nurtured this worship group until it became a monthly meeting in the early 1990s, whereupon she transferred her membership. In the 1990s and early 2000s, she served on several committees and as clerk for Tallahassee (Fla.) Meeting, then was clerk for Southeastern Yearly Meeting.

Gay moved to Los Osos, Calif., in 2005, and transferred her membership to Central Coast Meeting in San Luis Obispo. She was very involved with committee work and also with eldering, nurturing vocal ministry, and supporting the corporate body. She enjoyed participating in worship sharing and Bible study.

Gay became involved in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). She facilitated AVP at the California Men’s Colony state prison in San Luis Obispo for many years and worked hard advocating for AVP both locally and internationally.

During the 2000s Gay became involved with Friends Peace Teams. She was an integral part of Asia–West Pacific Friends Peace Teams until early 2023. She embraced human diversity, particularly religious and spiritual, publicly supporting LGBTQ+ rights from the early 1980s.

Books, classical music, theater, yoga, a daily walk outside, gardening, and contemplative Quaker worship sustained Gay for many years. She participated in book clubs, always sharing and learning. She loved attending concerts and live theater. Gay loved being outside to see the plants growing, flowering, and sending up new shoots. She loved to talk to the people she met as she walked. She was passionately interested in the world and how we could live better together and with the natural world.

Gay was predeceased by her husband, Louis N. Howard. She is survived by four children, Holly Björklund (Shawn), Max Carr Howard (Kim), Emily Howard (Christine Klopfer), and Astrid Howard (partner Athamis Bárbara de Souza Barbosa); three grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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