IN MEMORIAM: William E. Howard, III

by Jane Ahrens

Mr. William Edward Howard, III, 55, beloved partner of Michael L. Laughlin and longtime resident of Aiken, South Carolina passed away at his home after a brief illness on Wednesday, December 21, 2016.

William was born August 15, 1961, in Ipswich, MA where he began his lifelong love of horses.  Under the instruction of Jerry Kenney, a renowned hunter/jumper trainer, William began winning championships in the pony hunter division at the age of 10.  While a young teenager, he traveled to England to ride and compete.  Upon returning to the United States, William continued his riding career competing, showing horses for the hunter/jumper ring, and breeding ponies.  He competed successfully along the Eastern seaboard on the hunter/ jumper circuit with many champions, including the hunter, Full Circle.

In addition to competing and showing, William developed a passion for teaching countless students and training horses.  William was loved and respected by those who were fortunate to call him a mentor and friend.

At Mill Race Farm, William established a stable known for its outstanding standards and care of the horses that he dearly loved. He also loved the many dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and peacocks on the farm.

William’s vision, style, knowledge, and enthusiasm returned the Aiken Horse Show to its former glory. During the ten years that William chaired the show, it regained its reputation for a beautiful course, raised its competitive standards, and drew large sponsors and nationally known champions.  With gratitude, the 2017 Aiken Horse Show in the Hitchcock Woods is dedicated to the loving memory of William E Howard III.

In addition to his horsemanship, William loved to play golf. He learned the game at the Fishers Island Club and played it both there and at the Palmetto Golf Club. On both courses, William’s sense of style could be seen in his golf attire, particularly his beautiful shoes.

William was preceded in death by his parents William and Nancy E. Howard. He is survived by his partner of many years, Michael Laughlin; two sisters, Jennifer (Jonathan) Phillips and Lisa Guertner, both of Ipswich, Massachusetts; nieces Madison Phillips and Jessica (John) DeVries; nephew Jeremy Guertner and his partner Jillian Lukegord; and god daughter, Caroline Wolcott of Aiken.

A celebration of William will be held Sunday, March 5, 2017, from 4:00 to 7 p.m. at the Pond House at Mill Race Farm, 3680 Laughlin Loop/1401 Cooks Bridge Road, Aiken, South Carolina.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 24, 2017, at St. John’s Church, Fishers Island, New York at 11:00 a.m. with lunch to follow.

Memorials may be directed to the Great Oak Therapeutic Riding Center with the hopes of naming one of the facilities after William. Memorials should be sent to Great Oak ATRC, PO Box 1288, Aiken, SC 29802.

William’s online guest book may be signed by visiting

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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