Who is Howard?
Howard’s Heart is named for my grandfather, Howard Bunker. He was born in Wisconsin in 1921, and after he and his siblings lost both parents by the age of 12, they were split up to different foster homes. Poppi spent time as a farm worker in some of those homes. He told me once that one of them was wonderful. They helped him finish his high school education, which he was exceedingly proud of; he was the first person in his family to do so. He enlisted in the Army at age 18, in 1939, and spent several years stationed in England, where he met my grandmother, fell in love, and started a family.
My Poppi was a joyful and kind man. As I grew up, my mother told me stories of how he came to help her when she was overwhelmed at babysitting, and drove hundreds of miles to see her graduate from college. He made sure that he and my Nanni were at every soccer game, school play, and milestone that mattered to my brother and me.
After my grandmother passed, he spent 13 years baking bread for his congregation, crocheting baby blankets for babies in the NICU, eating all the candy he could, and watching war documentaries. He told terrible jokes and loved his great-grandchildren more than anything.
I am the last grandchild to carry his name; the last grandchild to honor a man who everyday was a testament to what one’s internal resilience can do if combined with one or two caring champions and given the opportunity to shine.
If I learned anything from my Poppi, it was that even the smallest action can make a change. Howard’s Heart is dedicated to him, and the values that he instilled in the numberless lives he touched. Please join us on our journey to continue the legacy of love that he started.
-Amy Bunker, Howard's Heart Executive Director