Howard White was a friend to Kokomo

Written on 05/07/2024
Patrick Munsey

Howard White, owner of White’s Meat Market, passed away on April 27 at the age of 67. His business was a mainstay in the community, known best for its slogan, “You just can’t beat the best meat in town.” White ingrained himself and his business into the fabric of Kokomo and Howard County with his aggressive business promotion and even more aggressive charitable giving.

One of the people who knew Howard best was Bill Eldridge, the former station manager for WWKI and Telecable, as well as part owner of the Kokomo Perspective. From the moment White began his business, he and Eldridge became life-long friends.

“I knew Howard White for more than 40 years,” said Eldridge. “He was a great advertiser with the Kokomo Perspective, but he was also my friend. What I really admired the most about him was how he helped people without anyone knowing.

“Remember when we had a homeless encampment behind Kautz Field? The weather was going to get really cold. He bought blankets, hats, and gloves for them and took them food. Another example of how much he cared for others came after 9/11 when the Red Cross asked the Perspective to sponsor a blood drive.

“My first call was to Howard to see if he would donate hot dogs for lunch. He said no. Instead of just donating lunch, he and Rick Brown of Dan Young fixed sausage sandwiches for the people in the morning and hot dogs for those who came after lunch. They set grills and worked all day, cooking and serving food. It was the largest blood drive the local Red Cross ever had.”

Rick Brown was probably White’s best friend in the world. WWKI radio personality Tammy Lively was close to both men over the years. Brown passed in 2023, but when both men were in their prime, they were inseparable allies and pranksters, she explained.

“I remember one night in probably the early ‘90s,” said Lively. “Notre Dame was a football powerhouse, and they knew what big Notre Dame fans we were. I get this phone call from Howard. It's like 11:15 p.m., which was very unusual.

“Howard’s like, ‘Hey, are you up? Rick and I are on our way over.” And here they come with these grins on their faces, walking up the walking up my driveway. They had been at a fundraiser and saw this Lou Holtz autographed football. They knew I would love it. They spent a ton of money on it and brought it over to my house.”

That desire to give back was always present with White. Sharing the success the community gave him in his business, he returned the favor over and over.

“He sponsored just about every Little League,” said Lively. “I think he had a White’s Meat Market team in every league in the city. He was always so willing to help, and he loved being a part of the community.”

White also supported efforts to inform the community through the media of things that affected their lives. Eldridge explained that White was a reliable sponsor of the Kokomo Perspective’s investigative efforts and of the controversial decision to begin running mugshots, first of convicted sex offenders, and later of those arrested in Howard County and surrounding communities.

“When the Perspective decided to publish the sex offender registry, Howard was the first person to step up and support the project,” said Eldridge. “He thought it was something the community would want. He was right. His customers went out of their way to thank him.”

As Kokomo says farewell to Howard White, Lively hopes that people remember him for his work in the community and his loyalty as a friend.

“If you were Howard's friend, you had somebody who was going to be on your side come hell or high water,” said Lively. “We had a lot of good times together, a lot of laughs, and I miss him.”