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Yale 62

Howard Kolodny

Born: July 23, 1937

Died: September 9, 2021

Howard Kolodny was born in New York, son of Jacob Murray Kolodny and Doris Helen Bernstecker.  His family moved to suburban Washington, D.C. and he graduated from Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland in 1955.

Howard entered Yale in 1955 with the class of 1959. He then left Yale in January 1956 and joined the Army.  He was discharged in 1957 and attended George Washington University until the fall of 1958 when he returned to Yale and the class of 1962.

Howard was a history major, a recipient of the White Prize in 1959, on Dean’s List, a ranking scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He was a resident of Trumbull College and on the Trumbull soccer team.  He was a member of Dwight Hall where he worked with the Yale Hope Mission. He was also a member of Hillel.

Following graduation, Howard worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax law specialist and attended Georgetown University Law Center at night. After what he described in our 25th Reunion Class Book as “4 grueling years later” he graduated and then passed the D.C. Bar exam.  In the midst of work and school, Howard found the time and the opportunity to meet and marry Elaine P. Tanenbaum of D.C.  They were married in August 1965 and had been married 56 years at the time of his death in September 2021.

In our class book at graduation, he predicted that he would work for the IRS.  In fact, his time with the federal government was short.  After he was admitted to the D.C. Bar, he worked in the “world of large law firm practice” for 15 years.  Howard then took and passed the Maryland Bar Exam and moved his practice from the city to the suburbs.

Despite his success in practice, he frankly admitted dissatisfaction with law, writing that it had “given only sporadic satisfaction.”  Instead he developed a number of hobbies and activities which he pursued vigorously.  These included handball with tournament competition, collecting old movies, antique cameras, and dark room equipment, classic old golf clubs (hickory shafted), and massive amounts of shelf space at home filled with books.

Howard suffered, but survived in 2001, a “widow-making heart attack.”  Only then did he give up his 48-year, pack-a-day cigarette habit.  He retired from the law at age 74 and with Elaine traveled widely including Scotland (for golf, of course), as well as elsewhere in Europe and in the Caribbean.

Howard became a self-taught ukulele player and notably, he then self-taught the mandolin. He has continued collecting and showing old silent movies and early “talkies.”   He served as president of the Society for Cinephiles. He also served as treasurer of the Golf Heritage Society. He competed in the Society’s tournaments with his wooden-shafted clubs while dressed in knickers and high socks.

Howard and Elaine, who earned her Master’s degree from Harvard, had one child, their daughter Jennifer, who now lives on an 18-acre farm near Frederick, Maryland with sheep, goats and chickens. On the farm, Jennifer pursues her goal of helping sick and abandoned dogs; she leads operations for Lonely Hearts Animal Rescue, rescuing and finding homes for hundreds of puppies and adult dogs each year. Howard loved being with the dogs and he and Elaine made frequent trips to the Maryland countryside.

Howard wrote for our 50th Book that Jennifer had told him to get rid of his 50 years of accumulated detritus from his multiple hobbies. But was he too high-spirited to obey his daughter’s command, and he had too much fun with his hobbies. His final words in our 40th Reunion Book summed up his happy view of life one year after his heart attack: “Either I’m lucky or I must have done something right along the way to deserve the love, devotion and fondness of Elaine and Jennifer, two special ladies. … So if the bad thing should happen again in one form or another, I feel I could go without any serious regrets. Not many I know can say that. So I consider myself a lucky guy. And as anyone who’s been on a golf course or a handball court will tell you, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”


Robert G. Oliver