La Verne Loses Beloved Teacher Terri Howarth, 53

January 23, 2012
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howarthTherese “Terri” Howarth, 53, a beloved teacher at San Dimas and Bonita High Schools for 20 years, died at her home in La Verne, on Jan. 14, after a two-year battle against cancer.

According to Gary, her husband of 30 years, she was a fighter to the end. “She was determined to beat this thing,” he said.

Remarkably, Terri showed more concern for her caregivers, Gary noted, than worrying about her own condition.

“Her concern for other people, the respect she had for everybody, was amazing,” he said. “The nurses, the orderlies, the maids … she would befriend them all. It didn’t matter who they were.”

Abandoned animals also benefitted from her kindness. She once adopted a stray dog that had been hit by a car, naming the Chihuahua “Baldwin,” since she rescued it while driving through Baldwin Park.

Terri and Gary met when they were both students at Cal Poly Pomona. There she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration before beginning her teaching career. At San Dimas High School, she helped many students with their math and business courses. She also guided the school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter.

Gary recalled how the two of them met.

“A group of friends carpooled to Dodger Stadium, but when the game was sold out, we regrouped and went to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Hollywood,” Gary said. “She sat next to me. A week later, I asked her out, and six weeks later we got engaged.

“I graduated on June 13, and we got married on June 20.”

Their whirlwind romance lasted 30 years, a time during which they loved to travel, especially to Asia and Europe. In the last two years of Terri’s illness, they also managed to take two wonderful cruises to Mexico and Alaska.

But home is what Terri like best. A reader of detective thrillers, she loved entertaining friends and relatives and was especially known for her delicious chocolate cake, the ingredients of which still remain a closely guarded secret.

After Terri left teaching in 2002, she served as an executive director with the California Teachers, representing area teachers until her passing.

She is survived by her husband Gary, her mother, Shirley Bender, of La Verne; brothers John Bender, of Moreno Valley, Kurt Bender, of Fontana, and Kenny Bender, of Carmichael; and eight nephews and three nieces.

Services will be at 11 a.m., Jan. 30 at Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton. A remembrance reception will follow.

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