Howard Larry (Doc Howard) Bruce
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On January 3rd, 2020, Larry B. Howard, Ph.D., 91, of Colorado Springs, CO, passed away peacefully at home with his wife Elaine of 67 years at his side. He is also survived by his sister Allison Quattrocchi, children Randy Jane Ernst) of Denver CO, Rick (Laura Pimentel) of Baltimore MD, Laure Kenyon (Bill) of Colorado Springs CO, Lisa (Jim Longanecker) of Atlanta GA and six grandchildren (Brianna, Wes, Maddie, Chloe, Tanner and Sierra).
Born in Seattle in 1928, Larry grew up in western Montana. Larry attended Menlo High prep school near Palo Alto, CA, where he was a scholar-athlete, finishing in three years and lettering in football, track and field, and swimming (on scholarship).
In 1945, Larry enlisted at 17 to join the WWII effort through the 11th Airborne Division. The war ended before he was deployed, so he ended up in the occupation forces on Hokkaido as a medic. After completing military service, he returned to the US and obtained a BA in Chemistry and Microbiology at the University of Montana in 1949 and where he met his wife, Elaine Ungherini of Butte, Montana. During the summer, Larry put his army airborne training to work as a smokejumper, a skill that later resulted in an attempt by the CIA to recruit him during the Korean War.
Larry and Elaine were married in 1952 and moved to Minneapolis, where Larry obtained his PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and they had their first child, Randy, in 1955. Upon graduation in 1956, Larry accepted a position as the Assistant Director of the Georgia State Crime Lab in Atlanta, where he and Elaine had three more children, Rick (1956), Laure (1958) and Lisa (1961). Larry loved his children and was proud of what they accomplished.
Arriving in Atlanta, Larry added post-doctoral education in multiple medical sciences at Emory University, where he eventually joined the staff in the Medical School Anatomy and Pathology Departments and received advanced forensic training from the Crime Lab Director, Dr. Herman Jones. Larry then spent much of his time driving and flying his airplane all over the state to perform autopsies and investigate crime scenes. GBI agents, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials loved to attend these trips with Larry as he made learning, however gruesome, fun and exciting. (During one of these trips, he made national news when the engine of his Mooney died and he was forced to make an emergency landing on I-75.) In 1969, he became the Director of the Georgia Division of Forensic Sciences and Supervisor of the Georgia Medical Examiner System, a position he held until his Georgia retirement in 1988.
While he had many interesting stories, Larry was perhaps best known for his roles in the 20+ serial Atlanta child murder cases in the 1980s as well as for a series of arsenic poisonings in South Georgia. The child murder cases drew national media and FBI attention. He and his Crime Lab forensic team used blood, rug fibers and dog hairs associated with both the suspect and victims to help convict Wayne Williams, who is still in prison. This was the first time technology was advanced enough to successfully match textile fibers and dog hair to help convict a suspect.
During his years with the Crime Lab, Larry served as the Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and President of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors. He was on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Forensic Science and the American Journal of Legal Medicine and Pathology and a member of multiple scientific societies. He also consulted and lectured on various forensic topics, including drug and poison deaths, ballistics and blood spatter patterns.
Larry's numerous honors include Who's Who in America (2007-2012) and Who's Who in the World (2008). In 1973, he was given the American Bicentennial Research Institute Award in Recognition of Professional and Civil Attainment. In 1981 he was voted Man of the Year by the District Attorneys' Association of Georgia and in 2000 received the Briggs White Award for excellence in forensic science management.
After retiring from the Georgia Crime Lab, Larry and Elaine moved back home to the rocky mountain west and settled in Colorado Springs to help the Colorado Springs Police Department develop, build and manage their crime lab (1990-95). From 1995 to 2018 he worked as a forensic science consultant and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to sharing with Elaine the mentoring of their children in the importance of hard work, education, integrity and extracurricular activities, he was a fitness enthusiast. He ran and lifted weights regularly into his 60s, resulting in his being given the nickname "Clark Kent" by the neighborhood. In his 40s he made the technical climb of Grand Teton and later took up scuba diving. He was often the first coach for his kids, who also developed skills in multiple traditional sports. As an outdoorsman, Georgia Canoe Association member and amateur geologist (having picked up a Geology BS at Georgia State University in 1983), he also introduced his kids to the joys of camping, hiking, whitewater sports and geology field trips.
Larry was an intelligent man with an unquenchable thirst for learning. He loved to teach and was known for his absolute integrity and solid application of scientific principles in solving crimes. He had an impish sense of humor, a twinkle in his blue eyes and always a wore a big smile.
Larry's remarkable life will be celebrated in Colorado Springs on February 22 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Remington Room, from 3-6pm. The Celebration of Life is open to the public. Please RSVP to Laure at

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Published in The Gazette on Feb. 2, 2020.
Celebration of Life
03:00 - 06:00 PM
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