Samuel Houston Howard
Samuel Houston Howard

Samuel Houston Howard was born on May 8, 1939 in Marietta, Oklahoma to Houston and Nellie Gaines Howard. He was trailblazing Black businessman and an esteemed veteran of Nashville’s signature health care industry, has died at age 81.Corporate executive Samuel Houston Howard was born on May 8, 1939 in Marietta, Oklahoma to Houston and Nellie Gaines Howard. Howard received his B.S. degree in business administration from Oklahoma State University in 1961, and his M.A. degree in economics from Stanford University in 1963. Sam Howard’s success in business has made him one of the longstanding scions of Music City. Howard’s background is in health care, working as an executive with Meharry Medical College and HCA Healthcare Inc. (then Hospital Corporation of America), among others. As an entrepreneur, Howard formed and led Xantus Corp, a TennCare HMO, and is still owned Phoenix Holdings Inc., a health care-focused investment holding company. Howard owned radio stations in three states and invested in real estate.   Howard leveraged his business career to extend his reach well beyond his day jobs. He mentored a number of entrepreneurs, often counseling them over breakfast at Shoney’s.

Howard has been a member, board director or committee member of numerous organizations, including Southeast Community Capital; Nashville Electric Service; National Association of Corporate Directors; Nashville Chamber of Commerce; Federation of American Health Systems; Financial Executives Institute; National Easter Seal Society; National Urban League; Leadership Nashville Foundation; Project Reflect, Inc.; National Conference of Christians & Jews, Inc. (NCCJ); and United Way, among others. Howard was founder and director of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, chairman of the board of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, and trustee of Fisk University. He served on the Governor’s TennCare Roundtable in 1995 and the Boy Scouts Inner City Task Force Committee in 1988.

Howard was inducted into the Oklahoma State University School of Business Hall of Fame in 1983, and received the 1980 and 1984 Federation of American Hospitals President’s Achievement Award. In 1994, he received the Nashville NAACP Branch Image Award for Lifetime Achievement and the NCCJ Human Relations Award. Howard received the Outstanding CEO Award among the 100 largest privately-held businesses in Nashville in 1997 and the Nashville Business Journal’s 1995 Small Business Executive of the Year Award. He was honored as Nashvillian of the Year in 1998 by the Easter Seal Society of Tennessee and as Philanthropist of the Year in 1997 by the National Society of Fundraising Executives. In 2010, Howard received the White House Fellows John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award. He was the first Black chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and chaired a Metro commission that led to the construction of downtown’s original convention center, at Broadway and Fifth Avenue North. Howard is the author of The Flight of the Phoenix: Thoughts on Work and Life, published in 2007.   He leaves to mourn his loss, Karan, his devoted wife of over 50 years,  his son, Samuel Houston Howard, II, daughter Reverend Anica Howard, and grandchildren, family and friends.

Below are the arrangements for Samuel Howard.  In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, please do not feel obligated to attend the viewing or the funeral, particularly if you are concerned about contracting the virus.  Your calls and prayers are sufficient.  We appreciate everything that has been done to date.

The Howard family

Arrangements for Samuel H. Howard
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
1:00- 4:00 pm
Lewis and Wright Funeral Home
2500 Clarksville Hwy
Nashville, TN  37208
Private Funeral (due to the Covid-19 virus)
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
1:00 pm
Service will be live streamed (instructions forthcoming on Lewis and Wright Funeral Home website)
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Urban League of Middle Tennessee in honor of Samuel Howard You can donate online at or mail your donation to 50 Vantage Way, Suite 201, Nashville, TN  37228.