North Carolina Libertarians opened their annual state convention by remembering and honoring Tom Howe, anarchist theorizer and parent of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina.
By Susan Hogarth
Every fortunate state party has a set of "parents," a couple united in both personal and liberty goals. The influence of these couples in guiding and supporting new libertarians cannot be overvalued. They provide a sense of family and continuity in the organizations they join and foster.
In North Carolina, the state party had Barbara and Tom Howe.
Shortly after the formation of the LPNC in the '70s, one of its founders, Craig Springer, made a UPS delivery of books from Laissez Faire Books to Tom and Barbara and invited them to the discussions held in his home.
They became cornerstones of the state party, as well as supporters of the national party. They attended state and national conventions, tabled at events, led discussion groups, served in party positions, ran for public office, led petition drives, and gave significantly and often to both state and national parties, as well as several local parties.
Tom, a career programmer, was the anarchist theorizer, while Barbara was the outward face of the Howe Powerhouse, serving as state chair and gubernatorial candidate several times. Of course, Tom ran for office as well and served in various positions on the LPNC Executive Committee.
But so much of his focus was on supporting Barbara as the family's "libertarian spokesperson" that, though they had donated a great deal of money to state and national parties, only Barbara had the title of lifetime member. Tom had been meaning to make the extra donation to make himself a lifetime member as well.
Last summer, their 45th wedding anniversary fell during our state convention. They were serving as secretary and treasurer, so their marriage was celebrated among libertarians, as so much of their married life had been.
This fall, Tom succumbed to a sudden illness, leaving those of us who knew him shocked and devastated. As the December LNC meeting approached, I invited Barbara along as we had attended so many meetings together in the past. At the fundraising gala, Barbara returned Tom's decades of giving her the limelight and fulfilled his promise to finally become a lifetime member as well.
Tom's influence on the libertarian movement is the sort of steady, solid commitment we need so desperately. He was always there for the movement and for his friends in it, and even when there were disagreements and strife, he always remembered who the real enemy was – the state. Tom was a true friend and ally to all those striving for freedom, and a dear and irreplaceable friend to those who knew him well.
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