Dr. Ben Howard, Retired Dallas OB/GYN Who Delivered Many Babies Pro Bono, Dies at 92

Dr. Ben Keith Howard delivered many babies during his career, many of them pro bono."He never made very much money, but he gave to everybody," said his son Robert Howard of McKinney. "He was a very generous guy. He was moved to help people wherever he could."Howard, 92, died Dec. 1 of heart failure at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Carrollton.Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Believers Chapel, 6420 Churchill Way in DallasHoward was well liked by his patients, said his son, who, after his father's death, discovered boxes of photos capturing the babies the doctor delivered as they grew up."'Hi, Dr. Ben, this is Moses," his son said, reading a note with one photo. "He's now had his seventh birthday. We love you.'"Howard was guided by his Christian faith and and his desire to help others, his son said. Many of his free deliveries were for students at Dallas Theological Seminary.A man of many hobbies, Howard was a self-taught woodworker, a useful skill for a doctor on a budget. He made furniture for his office — including the examination table — as well as his home.Howard was born in Pittsburg, Texas, where he grew up on a farm with his parents, five brothers and two sisters.He graduated valedictorian of his class at Pittsburg High School, then began studies to become a doctor at the University of Texas at Austin."He went to the University of Texas with a hundred dollars in his pocket that was given to him by Ben E. Keith, who was one of my grandfather's good friends," Robert Howard said. "My father was named after him." (Keith was president of the large Dallas fruit and vegetable distributor that bears his name.)Howard's plan was to pay for his undergraduate education by working at an Austin mortuary. At about the end of his freshman year, he decided to volunteer for Army service during World War II.After boot camp, Howard spotted a poster noting a need for Army doctors. He took an aptitude test and was one of two candidates accepted for the training program.Howard attended Cornell University and was sent to medical school in Dallas. In 1947, he was a member of the second graduating class from what is now UT Southwestern Medical Center.He had a general practice in Quanah, where some patients paid with barter, including chickens and eggs.He returned to Dallas and in 1953 completed his OB/GYN residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital. He then was called to active duty and served at an Air Force hospital in England, supervising an OB/GYN unit during the Korean War."He was a captain in charge of the OB/GYN unit, even though he had never passed the boards," said his son Keith Howard of Denver.Howard returned to Dallas after his military service and took his Texas board exams."The examiners asked him to describe a couple of cases he had supervised,"and he said, 'Well, I've supervised between 200 and 300 cases. What kind of case would you like me to describe?'" Keith Howard said. "He had an extraordinary level of experience when he started in private OB/GYN practice in Dallas."Howard was on the staff at Baylor University Medical Center and later Presbyterian Hospital.Later in his career, he stopped delivering babies but continued his gynecology practice. He maintained his obstetrics credentials, which he needed one day at Presbyterian, when a woman was in labor with a breech delivery.The woman was not a candidate for a Cesarean section, and the hospital put out a call for a doctor to handle the case. Howard answered by scrubbing up and successfully delivering the baby."He said the place was full of people," his son said. "Because none of these other doctors had ever seen it done.'"In 1945, Howard married Dorothy Jean McLendon. She died in 2007.In addition to Robert and Keith, Howard is survived by another son, James Howard of Dallas; his brother, Joe Ed Howard of Austin; and three grandsons.Memorials may be made to either the Ministry of Believers Chapel or the Providence Theological Seminary, in care of Believers Chapel, 6420 Churchill Way, Dallas, Texas 75230.  Continue reading...

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