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InterView Magazine

Wayne Howard: It's Never Too Late to reach your peak

 With his 70th birthday right around the corner, La Verne resident Wayne Howard may not be your typical senior. If you’ve visited the scenic mountain area of Idyllwild over the past few decades, you may have seen Howard scaling up the face of Tahquitz Rock, nestled in California’s San Jacinto Mountains, patiently searching for his next hand or foot hold. That’s because Howard is an avid rock climber. He even has a climbing wall in his home gym.
Achieving the Impossible
He caught the climbing bug at age 19 while serving in the military.  As a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, while in guerilla warfare school, he was introduced to the principles of rock climbing and mountaineering. He remembers the excitement of it, though he didn’t get a chance to try it again until nearly a decade later.
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Howard moved to California to attend college after his discharge from the military. “I met a couple of guys in my outfit that told me all kinds of wonderful things [about California], half of which were true,” he jokes.

In California, Howard enrolled in the Sierra Club’s 10-week Basic Mountaineering Training Course, known today as the “Wilderness Travel Course.” After that he took classes at the Yosemite Mountaineering School and has been hooked ever since.
In the seventies, according to Howard, rock climbing was not as popular as it is now. “It wasn’t part of the corporate culture,” he says, like other sports such as golf, though he did enjoy and play golf for many years. Howard says that some people viewed rock climbers as “a bunch of crazies with suicidal tendencies,” which is a misconception. He is no thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie and every climber he has known has been “extremely safety-conscious,” he says. For him, the climb is about the challenge and accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

Accepting the Challenge
Howard’s enjoyment of a challenge shows itself not only in his physical activities, but also in his career. He was interested in marketing research and consulting,  having done much of his graduate work in that field. After working in the corporate world in many different industries, Howard started his own business, Wayne Howard and Associates, a Healthcare Market Research company.  “I went out on my own… and just did it,” he says.
“It seems like most of my life I have had a special interest in health and physical fitness far more than most people I know,” he says, “and [that] is undoubtedly part of the reason that working in the healthcare industry has been really enjoyable.” 

Family Matters
Since those early days of finding his footing, he has made numerous climbs, pulling himself up and down mountains all over California, Colorado, Wyoming’s Grand Tetons, the Canadian Rockies, and even some down in Southern Mexico.
Climbing trips have been an important part of Howard’s personal challenges, and also times for family togetherness. He and his wife, Mary, a recently retired nurse, and their two children, Kristy and Steve, have taken many camping trips to national parks and wilderness areas over the years. “Those family camping trips, linked to my climbing activities, were terrific experiences,” he remembers.
His family is very important to him; you can hear it in his voice as he speaks about his wife, children, and his four beautiful granddaughters, whom he can dote on at a distance —thanks to the discovery of Skype.
Howard and his wife share a love of reading. They recently donated 964 books to Books for People, proof of the mountain of books they had acquired over the years. Many evenings they sit together, Kindles in hand, absorbed in their respective books. They have a second home in Idyllwild, which they hope to make their permanent homesoon. Howard has already set up a “satellite” office so he can continue running his business there. 
Some of Howard’s other hobbies include mountain biking, daily two-hour conditioning workouts, which often include yoga, and running. He has run marathons, though he doesn’t run as much as he used to, preferring to hop on his mountain bike more these days.
So what is it that keeps Howard so engaged with life in both body and mind? What has motivated him to run his company and log thousands of miles in his running shoes, on his bike, or up the side of a mountain?
I find that the love of what I am doing… is a very powerful motivator,” he says, “and therein lies a very good inspiration for many people. If they’re able to find an activity that they greatly enjoy, that they love enough, then they will find the time.”

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