Memorial Spaceflights

Romeo Francis Howe

"Gone but never forgotten"

Romeo Francis Howe was born September 14, 1944 in Newport, Rhode Island to Norbert and Bettye Howe.  His mother was a stay-at- home mom in his early years and his father had a lifelong career in the United States Navy causing the family to live many places in the United States during his youth.  His parents would finally settle in California, where Romeo and his sister, Bettye attended Compton High School, where he graduated in 1962.  

While in high school, Romeo followed in his father’s footsteps and received his Private Pilot’s license at the age of 17, but due to unforeseen circumstances would not continue with his love of aviation until later in life.  

Romeo continued his academic career at Compton College and became actively involved in the American Red Cross College Board.  While there he chaired the Red Cross Campus Blood Drive for two years.  

In 1966 he received an Associate’s degree from Compton College with plans to attend California State University Los Angeles, however, he was drafted into the United States Army and served from 1966 to 1968 with one tour in Vietnam.  Romeo completed his service commitment and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1972.

Upon returning from the Vietnam war, he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University Los Angeles in 1970 and took a job as an Air Traffic Controller with Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO).  

In 1968, while attending a friend’s party, he met the love of his life, Ellen Kotzin Howe, and they married November 17, 1971. After living in a small Los Angeles apartment for a few years, they bought a house in West Covina, CA with his Veterans Administration benefits in 1975.  In August 1976, Romeo and Ellen welcomed their only child, Aimee Heather Howe into the world.  

In 1981, Romeo joined 11,000 other Air Traffic Controllers that were fired by presidential order when PATCO went on strike to protest safety concerns with the working conditions of Air Traffic Controllers.  

Romeo spent the next 20 years of his professional career in the private sector as a Manufacturing Engineer and Project Manager in support of various programs (i.e. Air Force Ground Support Equipment, Naval Weapon Systems, NASA Space Shuttle Propulsion Systems) before returning to his passion of supporting the aviation community as a consultant for several environmental projects for the surrounding Southern California airports and reestablishing his credentials with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

In 1990 Romeo restarted his passion for flying and received retraining for his Private Pilot’s license.  

He was a lifetime learner, attending Cal State University Fullerton for 20 years, ending up with another Bachelor’s degree in Geography with a minor in Computer Science in 2001 and a Master's degree in Environmental Studies in 2005, with many additional credits on his transcript.  Upon retiring from both work and school, Romeo and Ellen travelled regularly; all throughout Europe, the Caribbean Islands and even taming the wilds of Alaska.  

He welcomed son-in-law Edward Hendle in 1994, and grandchildren, Serena and Roman, the lights of his life.  Sadly, he left us on June 26th, 2016, before being able to see his grandchildren continue his passion for aviation.  His loving wife of 45 years, Ellen passed away on February 12, 2023. He leaves behind his daughter Aimee, son-in-law Edward, Grandchildren Serena and Roman, his sister Bettye and her husband James, and nieces Jamie, Janine and their families. He was a versatile man of many talents and skills, beloved by his family and all who knew him.  He will truly be missed.

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