Howard Littlejohn, age 94, died suddenly on August 16, 2019 after enjoying an evening with his Nashville family. Born October 14, 1924 in DeKalb, Illinois, he was the fourth of five children born to Carl and Mary Smith Littlejohn and the stepson of Mildred Littlejohn. His father, Carl, was a life-long educator who led a DeKalb elementary school as its Principal for the last 42 years of his 51 year career. The community was so taken by Carl’s leadership, the school was named in his honor. The Carl Littlejohn Elementary School still remains today as a vital part of the DeKalb School System. Howard also assisted his father’s passion of raising and showing cocker spaniels in competitions around the Mid-West. He had a twin brother, Harold, who predeceased him. He also was predeceased by two sisters and another brother, Ruth Littlejohn Park, Hazel Littlejohn Haines, and Kenneth Littlejohn.
After attending the public high school in DeKalb, in 1942 he enlisted in the Navy and served in World War II. He returned from the Pacific Fleet and finished his college career, graduating in December 1950 from Bradley University in Peoria, IL. He was an accomplished tennis player and played on the Bradley tennis team. Upon graduation, he accepted a sales position with Keystone Steel and Wire Company in Peoria. A friend introduced him to Julie Mills on a blind date in Chicago on a cold day in February of 1949. He successfully courted her, making numerous weekend trips between Chicago and Peoria, ultimately asking her to be his bride. They were married on June 30, 1951. In December 1951, he took a promotion and transfer to Chicago. Howard and Julie made a home together in LaGrange, a western suburb of Chicago, for 48 years. They lived there until moving to Nashville in September of 2001, where they remained, still very happily married, after 68 years.
Howard continued in his sales role at Keystone through several corporate transitions and eventually retired in 1985. He was so committed to his family that he passed up several promotions with Keystone to remain in the LaGrange community where they were so involved. Howard was the consummate people person, engaging with almost everyone he met. In LaGrange, he led the Park District as an active Board Member and its two term President. He advocated for sports programs and facilities in his many volunteer interests, particularly tennis courts and lights. As a truly accomplished athlete, he played golf at a high level, although very humbly. He continued through his life with a stellar golf game until recently, often shooting below his age. Before giving up tennis, he was frequently asked to play in pick-up games or tournaments, having to juggle times with work, golf and family commitments.
Howard and Julie split time between their homes in New Smyrna Beach, FL and Brentwood, TN. His love for tennis and golf were fulfilled through their Florida home at the Sugar Mill Country Club, where he actively engaged with numerous friends and groups to live life to its fullest. He recently led a movement to install new pickleball courts and enjoyed watching members adopt the new activity. It evolved as he dreamed it would, a vital part of the club’s already active tennis community. In Brentwood, he also cherished his time on the golf course, but particularly for the lasting friendships made at the Brentwood United Methodist Church’s Wesley Forum Class. It became a very important part of his middle Tennessee life.
Howard’s traits were his congeniality, his respect for what is right in the world, his faith, his love for his children and his over-riding love and respect for his wife, Julie. He was genuinely well-liked and respected by many and often referred to as the “ultimate gentleman”. He faithfully followed the lives of his children and grandchildren in their varied activities as they took residence in different parts of the country. He also held true to his passion for following his favorite sports, whether tennis, golf, or a number of Vanderbilt athletic teams. Vanderbilt University became his adopted school, particularly during his 35 years of retirement. He followed the baseball team in travels to California and twice to Omaha, as well as attending many home games both in baseball and football. He considered himself blessed to have enjoyed extensive world travels and fondly recalled many occasions and friends made on their trips together.
He is survived by his wife, Julie, his three children, Jim, Linda, and Amy, their spouses, Lisa, Don and Steve; his grandchildren, Julie Champion, Anne Carr (Eric), Lucas, Melanie, Mitchell and Meredith and two great grandchildren, Finley and Roman.
A celebration of Howard’s life will be held at the Brentwood United Methodist Church this Friday, the 23rd at 3:00 p.m. with a visitation beginning at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to The Wesley Forum Class Fund at the Brentwood United Methodist Church, 309 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN 37027.
To leave a note for Howard’s family or to share a memory, please sign the online guestbook.