The Key Note: Sold on Service

Lyn Howard with husband Carl Howard at the 2017 YTA Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala. Photo by Brad Meyer.

Anyone who regularly attends Young Texas Artists’ Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala likely associates it with at least three things: Texas swing music, Lone Star attire ranging from “jeans to jewels” — and the charismatic stage presence of auctioneer Lady Lyn Howard.

Howard, also a successful entrepreneur and long-time Montgomery County resident, has been a volunteer auctioneer for YTA since the mid-2000s — and a memorable presence. Those who know her say she brings great energy to everything she does, especially when it comes to service.

Howard also has helped YTA by hosting out-of-town guests, getting the word out about the competition, selling tickets, welcoming contestants, and being on call as needed.

“I’ve known Lyn since she moved to Conroe, and I’ve always known her to be generous,” YTA President/CEO Susie Moore Pokorski said. “She has supported YTA from the beginning.”

Texas Proud

One reason Howard has been a natural at the Texas-themed Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue galas is her love for the Lone Star State. Howard is a native Texan born in Marshall and then raised in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Howard dreamed of joining a famous precision dance team associated with Texas culture, the Kilgore College Rangerettes, even after becoming a scholarship student at Texas Woman’s University.

“My mother said if I made the Rangerettes, I could go to Kilgore my sophomore year. So I did, and that was a fabulous year,” recalled Howard, who later returned to TWU to complete her degree in speech, drama, and education.

One of the most meaningful aspects of being a Texas Rangerette, Howard said, was getting to know the team’s founder, Gussie Nell Davis, who became a mentor and major influence in her life. Davis was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989 after being nominated by Howard.

Several years ago, when YTA hosted a group of Rangerettes to help it celebrate its 35th anniversary during Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue, Howard welcomed them in her uniform.

Working and Living in Montgomery County

Howard over the years has been a stewardess, model, teacher, and later, a successful telecommunications entrepreneur, a licensed real estate agent, a party hostess, and a licensed Texas auctioneer, working in and for Texas.

After buying a Conroe-based Toyota dealership, she found selling cars was a good fit for her. Ultimately, Howard became a new car dealer for AMC, Jeep, Renault, Toyota, Chrysler, Plymouth, GMC Truck, and Pontiac.

She quickly discovered Montgomery County was also a good fit, at first living in The Woodlands, then a new community, after buying the Toyota dealership in 1977.

After marrying local businessman Monty Hawthorne in 1984, she and her family settled in Conroe, and she has lived there ever since.

“We combined our family — my three children and father-in-law and Monty’s four children,” she said. “I ran my stuff, and Monty ran Conroe Creosoting. And then we did some our stuff together. One was the Conroe Good Morning News and then we started Wimberly Valley Wine and joined the board of governors for the organization of the John Cooper School.”

After Hawthorne died after an illness in 2000, Howard continued to live and work in the area.

“I think people over the years have found out what a really wonderful community Conroe is,” she said. “We are far enough north that we have the big trees, and we have the lake. We have so many amenities, and we have nice, friendly, loving people.”

Treasured Friendship

Those friendly, loving people included Conroe residents Anne and Lavoy Moore, neighbors, and their daughter, Susie Moore Pokorski.

“They lived at 1 Briarwood Drive, and our address was 1 Briarwood East Drive, a block away,” Howard said. “Anne and I would exchange mail. We’d just bring it to each other because postman could never really get it straight. That’s how I got to know (their daughter) Susie and her sisters.”

Later, Susie’s husband, Jim Pokorski, founded Young Texas Artists, and Susie went on to become the organization’s president and CEO.

Howard did everything she could to support YTA and its annual classical music competition.

“I have just always admired Susie’s tenaciousness,” Howard said. “This is something that she’s brought from a small town program to really an internationally recognized event. I’m just grateful I have been able to be a small part of that.”

Howard’s volunteer work for YTA began with hosting contestants in her home.

“I really enjoyed meeting them, hearing their stories, listening to them practice and being a little part of their lives.”

Commitment to Service

Howard’s devotion to the community — and Texas — doesn’t stop with YTA. She is a current board member with such organizations as the Conroe Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras, Crighton Theatre Foundation, Stage Right of Texas, the Conroe-based Friends of the Flag Foundation, and Access Builds Children, among others.

Howard also is the founding charter chaplain for The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Rebel Joan of Arc Chapter 2721, in Montgomery County and a member of the First Methodist Conroe. And, she just received her 50-year pin for continuous membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Community involvement and service, Howard says, are some of the most important things she devotes her time to.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility is to enhance the surroundings in their community and to give back,” she said.

Proud Moments

Howard says she takes particular pride in three efforts, beginning with organizing a 2004 community celebration called Salute Our Troops with husband Carl Howard. The event honored 10 Montgomery County individuals who had been killed in the war in Afghanistan since it started in 2000.

Howard also takes pride in initiating and leading efforts to buy Christmas decorations for Conroe about 20 years ago and decking out the city with poles wrapped in lights and displaying red flags; a large Santa with his sleigh on the Texas 105 bridge; a Christmas train on Texas 105  by the Montgomery County Courthouse; Christmas trees, and even a Christmas tree display off of the annex building. All of the decorations are still used today, Howard said.

More recently, she and Carl bought and renovated the 1885 home of Isaac Conroe, the city’s founder, and launched the city’s Founder’s Day celebration. The celebration went on hold during the pandemic but made a comeback on Aug. 2, 2022.

“I discovered that we are the only Conroe in the world,” Howard said. “Isaac Conroe was our founder, and the house he built in 1885 housed our first court. It was our first post office; he was our first postmaster; and it was the first house to have electricity. We need to be proud of that.”

New Interests Taking Shape

In addition to her business and service interests, Howard recently delved into sculpting, a longtime goal for her.

Conroe sculptor Craig Campobella agreed to mentor Howard after she made space in her dealership available for him to apply gold leaf to Texas Lady Liberty, the statue displayed in front of Simmons Bank (then Spirit of Texas Bank).

She started by making a bust of Carl and after that, she created one of President Donald Trump.

“It is in Washington in Congressman Kevin Brady’s office, and it has been approved to be presented to him (President Trump),” Howard said. “People say it looks like him. I hope so.”

Respected Competition

Looking ahead, Howard says she plans to continue supporting her community, including YTA. It has been rewarding, she added, to see YTA’s positive impact on Conroe and Texas, and the world.

“It has become the best of the best,” Howard said. “It’s a very well-respected competition. They have been able to bring in the top judges from all over the United States, making it very prestigious to be a finalist or the winner.”

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