Howard Schonberger was a community treasure

By Richard Walker

Editor of the North Kitsap Herald, former editor of the Journal

Howard Schonberger devoted his life to serving his country and his community – as an Army officer in World War II, and as a journalist from the post-war years until his passing.

In his journalism career, he served as a columnist, reporter, proofreader, ad sales manager and associate publisher. He enjoyed every aspect of producing the daily or weekly miracle, and I think if we were still in the days of hot lead, we might have found him setting type and running the press once in a while.

Howard believed in the local newspaper as a force for good, that its job wasn’t just to hold those in power accountable, but also to bring to light that which is good about humanity, and in doing so to inspire others to become involved and make change in their community. His Ferry Home Companion columns and his columns about clubs and nonprofits served as a diary of community life, and they have value as a historical record of our times in the same way that Virgil and Maude Frits’ “Friday Harbor in a Nutshell” did in the first half of the 20th century.

Howard loved the camaraderie and chatter of the newsroom, and he inspired countless young journalists with his mentorship, experience and good humor. I once asked a former Journal intern, an islander now working elsewhere as a reporter for a daily, if he thought he might someday like to serve as editor of the Journal. He said, “Only if I can have Howard.”

His home was a reflection of who Howard was as a person: Art, books, magazines, newspapers. A loving family (he made no distinction between child and stepchild, grandchild and stepgrandchild). Good conversation and lots of laughter. Buzzin’ Cousins. Griffin Bay and the beauty of the natural world always within view.

He was the coolest guy in the room: A goatee and dating in his 80s until Helen stole his heart. Bouncing back from illness to climb the steps of a temple in Thailand with Helen. And even in his 90s, as his sunset neared, his ad sales numbers exceeded those of the previous year.

Howard was a treasure and I’m proud to have known him. I’ll miss him.