Celeste Howard

Obituary of Celeste Howard

Born in 1926 to parents of Cajun and Scotch-Irish ancestry. She was raised in Houston, Texas and began college at Rice University. She later transferred to the Music Conservatory at Oberlin College in Ohio where she attend on an accelerated year-round wartime schedule, graduating in 1947 with majors in history and psychology. Upon obtaining graduate degrees from the University of Michigan in 1949 and Columbia University thereafter, she began teaching experimental psychology at Olivet College in Michigan. She returned to Oberlin College in 1956 where she published in 1965 her seminal professional work reporting discovery of a visual aftereffect subsequently known as the McCollough Effect. This work advanced scientific understanding of the visual cortex. Having become the first female professor to receive tenure at Oberlin College she resigned her position in 1970 in favor of marrying and having two children, Christine and Jim. She subsequently continued her professional career in Arizona doing visual research for the USAF from 1986-2003. With the birth of her first grandchild, she retired from professional life at the age of 77 and relocated to Oregon. She was an active grandmother to her three grandchildren as well was an active advocate of social justice, climate protection, and global demilitarization. At the age of 88, she travelled by train to protest the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington DC. Identifying as a Christian throughout her life, she was a member first of the Presbyterian Church and subsequently the Unitarian Universalist Church. She enjoyed classical music and frequently attended the symphony. After a long and extraordinary life, Celeste passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on January 20, 2023. She is survived by her brother Milton, her two children, and her three grandchildren.
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