Wichita-area Kansas House member Ron Howard dies after illness

Andrew Bahl
Topeka Capital-Journal
Rep. Ron Howard, who represented Wichita's south side in the Kansas House for two terms, died Tuesday after an illness, a spokesperson for House leadership confirmed.

Rep. Ron Howard, who represented Wichita's south side in the Kansas House for two terms, died Tuesday after an illness, a spokesperson for House leadership confirmed. He was 67 years old.

Howard had missed a chunk of session due to the ailment, although he returned for the final days for votes to override a slate of vetoes from Gov. Laura Kelly.

In a statement, House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, praised Howard's dedication to the caucus and to his work as a legislator.

"Ron Howard fought the good fight, showing strength in his efforts to recover and in his commitment to serve his district," Ryckman said. "Even during the most difficult moments of his illness, he made sure his constituents were represented on critical issues like taxes and Value Them Both (anti-abortion constitutional amendment). Ron will be remembered for that."

Howard first won election to the Kansas House in 2019, narrowly defeating Democrat incumbent Steve Crum in the district, which covers part of Wichita's south side. He won a second term last year, again defeating Crum by a wider margin.

During the 2021 session, Howard served on the Local Government, Social Services Budget, Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget and Veterans and Military committees.

Prior to joining the Kansas House, Howard worked for Boeing in Wichita. He continued to run a lawn service company during his tenure as a legislator.

Gov. Laura Kelly ordered flags throughout the state fly at half-staff in Howard's honor.

“My thoughts are with Rep. Ron Howard’s wife, Terri, and all of his friends and family during this difficult time," Kelly said in a statement. "A former Boeing worker and lawn care service owner, Rep. Howard shared a proud, hardworking background with many in his South Wichita and Haysville district. Despite facing difficult health challenges, Rep. Howard’s perseverance demonstrated his strong dedication to those he served.”

In social media posts, his House colleagues, particularly those from the Sedgwick County delegation, praised his work and leadership.

"Ron cared about his district deeply, fighting for South Wichita every day. May God comfort his wife Terri, and the rest of the Howard family," Rep. Nick Hoheisel, R-Wichita, said in a Twitter post. "South Wichita will miss you, my friend."