Edgar Howard Jr., 87, formerly of East Norriton, professor emeritus of chemistry at Temple University and former vice president of the Norristown Area School Board, died of heart failure Thursday at Kendal-Crosslands, a retirement community in Kennett Square.

Dr. Howard joined the Temple faculty in 1947. He was involved in research, taught undergraduate and graduate students, and for many years was adviser to the student chemical society. He participated in the National Science Foundation programs for elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers and had a strong interest in improving science education, said his daughter, Nancy Agnew. He had served on the board of the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Howard became a professor emeritus in 1986, and five years later, he began a career in public service when he was elected to the Norristown Area School Board. For eight years, he served as vice president of the board and was its "voice of reason," board secretary Kathleen M. Lally said. He retired in 2000.

A native of Rhode Island, Dr. Howard earned a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1943. During World War II, he did research for the Department of Defense while earning a doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

In 1953, Dr. Howard married Audrey "Sally" Weber, whom he had met at Temple. He was an assistant professor, and she was pursuing a master's degree in science education.

In 1979, after raising a family in Whitemarsh Township, the Howards bought an 1880s farmhouse in East Norriton and restored it. Dr. Howard tended the gardens outside and grew orchids inside. He and his wife tutored high school students in science and math through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). They traveled to Europe, Africa, and Asia and were longtime subscribers to the Philadelphia Orchestra. She died in 1995.

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Howard is survived by sons James and Carl and two grandchildren.

Friends may call from 9:30 to 11 a.m. today at Kirk & Nice Funeral Home, 80 Stenton Ave., Plymouth Meeting. Services will be private.

Donations may be made to the American Chemical Society, Project SEED, for high school science students, Development Office, 1155 16th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.