ALFRED HOWARD SR. had two main ambitions when he was young - to be a professional boxer or a minister.
Neither worked out for this hardworking family man, but he continued to be devoted to his faith long after he put the boxing gloves aside.
"Alfred loved the word of God," said his daughter-in-law, Jean Waites-Howard, an evangelist. "He easily quoted many scriptures. He could lift a fervent prayer for God's abundant grace."
Alfred Howard, who held a number of jobs in construction and as a trackman for the old Pennsylvania Railroad, died Tuesday. He was living in an assisted- living facility in Media, but had lived most of his life in the Parkside section of West Philadelphia.
"He had a calling for the ministry when he was young," said his son Alfred Howard Jr. "But other responsibilities interfered."
He was born in Philadelphia, the fourth and youngest son of the eight children of Taylor Howard and the former Annie Mae Howell. He was raised in Mantua and graduated from Overbrook High School.
Alfred seemed on his way to a boxing career when he won the light-heavyweight division of the Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1949.
A fellow boxer was the late Lucien Blackwell, who also gave up the ring and eventually became a Philadelphia city councilman.
Alfred worked for the Pennsy for 10 years and also worked as a paperhanger and in construction jobs here and in New York. He retired from the Consolidated Meat Co. in Philadelphia.
He was a member of the Lily of the Valley Apostolic Church, 25th Street and Snyder Avenue, when he actively considered the ministry. He later became a member of the Holy Temple of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, in Manayunk.
"During our last visit with him, we shared communion and prayed," said Jean Waites-Howard. "Dad's prayer was sincere and powerful.
"Dad was quite intelligent, witty with a great sense of humor."
Alfred enjoyed playing checkers and pinochle. Some of the pinochle games with family and friends could last all night, his son said.
He was also a fanatical Eagles fan and was a student of the game.
Besides his son, he is survived by another son, Ralph; a daughter, Alicia Kirk; a brother, John Howard; four sisters, Marge Kessler, Mary Hackett, Doris Dooley and Essie Shepherd; six grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his youngest son, Antonio.