HILMAR — Sharon Howze, the wife of former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze, died suddenly after a benefit run Saturday in Hilmar. She was 44.
Howze worked as an adaptive physical education instructor for the Stanislaus County Office of Education and helped to coach track at Denair High. Ted Howze has a veterinary practice and served on the Turlock council from 2006 to 2010.
Sharon Howze, described by friends as an avid runner and fitness advocate, was taking part in the five-mile Udder Run in Hilmar on Saturday morning when she collapsed near the end of the race. The event raises money for the Hilmar High School and Middle School track teams.
Ted Howze said they do not know the cause of death, and the family has requested an autopsy. Sharon Howze ran seven to nine miles every day and had just completed the Modesto Marathon with her youngest son in March. The couple have three sons Trey, Trenton and Tynan who all attend Denair High School.
On Sunday, Ted Howze posted an announcement on his Facebook page about Sharon's death. It reads in part:
"It is with a broken heart that I let you know that Sharon Howze passed away on Saturday afternoon June 8th at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock. She collapsed near the end of an organized five-mile run and never regained consciousness before passing away peacefully with her entire family by her side. I cannot describe the tragic hole left in our family at this moment from losing a beloved mother and wife of nearly 20 years. Please say a prayer for our family tonight."
Howze's death shocked friends and co-workers. More than 300 people attended a "Walk in Remembrance of Sharon Howze" on Sunday evening. The vigil brought family friends, her students and co-workers out in a show of support. In addition to her work and coaching, Howze and her family were active in youth football, Boy Scouts and their church.
Pam Martinez, who shared an office with Howze, said she worked with students with special needs in preschool through high school across the county.
"She was always smiling, she loved her job, she loved kids," Martinez said. "She was just really fun to be around and always had a nice thing to say. She was all about fitness for all kids. She was the most fit person most of us knew."
A private family service is planned in the next two weeks; in about a month, there will be a public remembrance service.
Sharon and Ted Howze met while undergraduate students at the University of California at Davis. They would have been married 20 years in July. She recently attended her eldest son's Eagle Scout ceremony, and her other sons are working on their Eagle projects.
"She was so proud of her children," Ted Howze said. "It was her dream from the time they were little kids they'd become Eagle Scouts."
The family has requested that contributions be made to the Society for Handicapped Children and Adults, 1129 Eighth St., Modesto, or call (209) 524- 3536.