Howard Stephen Svaty, age 78, passed away Wednesday, January 13, 2021 in Chanute, Kansas after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Howard was born December 18, 1942, in Ellsworth, Kansas. He started school in a one-room country schoolhouse and graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1960. He attended Kansas State University where he was a member of the Beta Sigma Psi fraternity. Howard entered K-State thinking he would be an architect and then had his first formal art class where he learned he could turn his love for art into a career. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1965 and moved to Fredonia, Kansas to begin his teaching career. There he met the love of his life Charlotte Baker, and they were married May 23, 1970. He continued his education earning his Master of Arts in Drawing and Painting from Emporia State University in 1972. He was an artist that brought his students along on his journey. He taught art for 33 years (1965-1999) at Fredonia High School, for 6 years (2000-2006) at Independence Community College, and for a lifetime (1942-2021) to his friends and family.
Howard was a loving husband, son, father, and grandfather. You could find Howard at any activity involving his children or grandchildren. He taught family and friends to think outside the box and color outside the lines. He was humble, didn’t talk or think about himself, and had a twinkle in his eye. He had a big, wheezing laugh and loved, loved, loved to tell cheesy jokes. He enjoyed playing cards and traveling with lifelong friends.
Howard made this world a better place and was a significant impact to many, many students over the years. He loved art and teaching connections beyond the subject matter of art. He had a unique capability of teaching anyone that wanted to learn to draw. He had an eye that saw things differently and helped others to appreciate it. The continued appreciation of art displayed by his student’s years and decades later is his legacy.
Howard had several opportunities to leave Fredonia for professional advancement. He chose to remain in Fredonia often quoting his father saying “you bloom where you are planted” and made Fredonia his lifelong home.
If you wanted to talk about the Kansas City Royals, K-State sports, or needed a sharp pocketknife, Howard was there for you. Anyone needing expert knowledge about history, geography, American Indian artifacts, or birdwatching found an avid friend in Howard. He didn’t have a formal music education but loved all genres of music from classical to southern rock and shared this love with his family and students.
Howard was instrumental in the development of the Fredonia Arts Council and exhibits at the Stone House Gallery. Most summers, Howard could be found at the Stone House gallery or the studio in the brick house behind the Stone House. Howard and Charlotte often invited the summer artist in resident to stay with them. Howard held several exhibits of his personal work at the Stone House, with the last exhibit held in 2012. He was an exceptional artist and exhibited his art at many local and Midwest galleries with many works placing at competition level.
Howard began his faith training at his mother’s family Lutheran church in Ellsworth, Kansas. After their marriage, he transferred his membership to the First Christian Church in Fredonia. He was instrumental in the development of the first sound system at the church. He and Charlotte were a part of the Christmas Day dinner for the community for many years.
Howard is preceded in death by his father, Stephen John Svaty, and his mother, Nora Marie Svaty (Warttig). Howard is survived by his wife Charlotte Svaty (Baker), his son Marc Svaty (Amanda), his daughter Rachel Svaty Condon (Mark), and his grandchildren Lizzie Condon, Jake Condon, Luna Svaty, and Isaac McPherson.
Services will be held Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 2:00 PM at Bateman Gymnasium in Fredonia, Kansas. Burial will be later due to cremation has been requested. Due to Covid, masks and social distancing will be required throughout the funeral. Even in eternal life, Howard would have been uncomfortable in a suit. Join the family in dressing casually. Virtual attendance is encouraged and available through Wickham Family Funeral Home Facebook Page. The visitation will be open to the public at the Wickham Family Funeral Home on Friday, January 22, 2021 from 12:00-6:00 PM. In honor of Howard’s giving nature, donations would be appreciated to the Howard Svaty Memorial Fund in lieu of flowers.