Sonoma County has lost a true Gentleman: Howard Karren 1930-2016

On February 2, 2016, Sonoma County lost a true American Hero and the Karren Family has lost its beloved Patriarch. Howard Karren was the embodiment of the American dream-by achieving success thru intelligence, hard work, integrity, honesty and humbleness. Howard loved his country, he served it with distinction at home and abroad and he was grateful for the opportunities that it gave him.

Howard Karren, a member of the Class of ‘51 of Texas A&M would be the first person to tell you how lucky a life he lived. He had everything he ever wanted, from his family that he adored, and who adored him back, to the opportunities and experiences of being able to travel for the last 60 years to over a 100 countries. There was not a corner of the globe that he did not touch. Never shy in his travels, Howard was fearless and would travel into deepest Sub-Saharan Africa, the Soviet Union tundra, the Libyan desert and the Australian outback. He was shot at in Yemen, narrowly missed being killed when his plane blew up in Nigeria and had to avoid terrorists in the Colombian jungle.

Howard was one of the few people in the world, who was able to visit vineyards and wine operations on all 6 continents.  Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Japan in Asia; France, Italy, Spain and Germany in Europe; South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco in Africa; Argentina in South America and multiple regions in Australia. Applying his knowledge from his travels including his visits to Sonoma and Napa, Howard, together with his wife of 51 years Peggy, planted a Cabernet vineyard in the mid 1990s in Glen Ellen, California.  The vineyard became known as the Karren Vineyard has been producing award winning grapes for the last 15 years.

Howard could not be happier living on Sonoma Mountain and enjoying all the bounty that Sonoma County has to offer. He worked very hard and was the embodiment of what it takes to be a successful wine grower as Howard personally tended the vineyard by hand as he would prune, sucker, train the vines as well as hoe, do leaf removal, green fruit removal and finally harvest. He would laugh: “yes, I could hire someone, but I like doing it.” Every year, including this last vintage of 2015, he would personally sort and load the Cabernet grapes into the truck and for many years, he would drive the grapes himself down to the Wellington winery in Glen Ellen.  In addition to the vineyard, Howard personally planted, managed 33 fruit trees and a dozen olive trees.

Howard is survived by his wife of 51 years Peggy, his sons Geoff of San Francisco, Charles of Petaluma, California, his daughter in law Diana and his grandchildren, Christian and Grace.  He is also survived by his brother Jerry, his sister in law Marilyn, brother Sidney’s widow Ruth, Peggy’s sister Julie, a host of nephews, nieces and friends.

Howard was very proud of the accomplishments of Peggy, his sons and grandchildren. He loved his family more than anything.  He would never admit it, but the proudest accomplishment in his life—is that he came from Texas A&M, where he was the first generation in his family to go to college, became a geologist and then had one of the most exciting careers in one of the most fascinating industries. He used what he learned at Texas A&M to have a successful life—both professionally and personally. He incorporated the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets’ motto of Respect, Leadership, Integrity, Loyalty, Excellence and Selfless Service. His degree from Texas A&M not only made a difference in his life, but that of his family, the generation that will follow them and the many friends he worked with around the world.

Finally, Howard also believed in giving back.  Both Peggy and Howard gave to numerous charities here in Sonoma County over their lives.  However, his favorite cause is Texas A&M.  Howard and Peggy endowed two professorships and also supported three students with Presidential and Corp of Cadets endowed scholarships.  In his honor, we ask that in lieu of flowers, any gift shall be directed to the Howard Karren Fund at the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX, 77840

Howard Karren was laid to rest at the Aggie Field of Honor, College Station, Texas on February 6, 2015, the 51st Anniversary of his marriage to Peggy.