By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Peggy Howard was a charter member of the Steiner Ranch Elementary teaching staff and Cale Howard was a senior at Vandegrift High School and an award winning musician in the VHS Band.
On Dec. 27, Peggy was worried about late-night driving and dropped her son off at the movies with friend Wolfgang Sargent, also a senior at VHS.
Peggy went back to pick them up and minutes later her car was hit from behind and shoved into oncoming traffic on RM 620 N. near RM 2222.
She was pronounced dead at the crash scene and Cale was transported to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, where he died several hours later. Wolfgang was in the back seat and survived the crash with a broken femur.
On crutches and moving slowly, Wolfgang spoke at the funeral, which was held Saturday for Peggy and Cale and was standing room only at Austin Baptist Church.
Wolfgang said that he and Cale were good friends and both loved music. He said he
didn’t know how he survived the crash. He also said Mrs. Howard was super nice to him, always asking if he wanted something to eat. At his last sleepover at Cale’s, Mrs. Howard
made him a large amount of bacon, which put her forever in his good
“Just as Mrs. Howard did not want Cale to drive home from the movies Friday night, Mrs. Howard watched over her class in the same manner, ever watchful and patient with each of them. Teaching them, growing them, loving them, as only a gifted teacher can do,” said Amy Kerr, SRE parent.
Peggy, who is also survived by two college-aged sons Bram and Satchel, taught school more than 30 years and started at SRE when the school opened in 1996.
Cale was a baritone sax player in the top band at VHS, the Wind Ensemble. His dad, Mark Howard, requested that this band provide music at the funeral.
Jeremy Spicer, Vandegrift HS director of band, told students prior to the funeral: “Our very best musicianship will be called upon… I can think of no better way to remember Cale and his mother than through sharing the beautiful gift of music.”
One of the pieces, the Benediction, was music Cale learned and then performed with his band during the winter concert in December. Saturday his bandmates played it without him, his chair left empty and his sax displayed in the front of the sanctuary.
SRE parent Kerr shared how compassionate Mrs. Howard was for her third daughter Morgan, who had a rough time with separation anxiety when she entered kindergarten.
“(For) a good portion of the year, Mrs. Howard lovingly and compassionately worked with Morgan to help her through this tough time. The beauty of Mrs. Howard was in her sweet way she talked with the children and tenderly motivated them to move forward,” Kerr said.
Another SRE parent, Julie Ballengee, echoes those thoughts. “Mrs. Howard was one of the sweetest ladies you could ever meet. Peggy was kind, loving, and patient; the perfect temperament for a Kindergarten teacher. She will definitely be missed.”
Peggy reached a milestone in her career when she began to teach the children of former students.
One of those former students, Christina Hughes, told KVUE that she fondly remembers Mrs. Howard.
“I definitely remember her as being so warm and loving. You can tell she was exactly where she wanted to be and doing what she wanted to do in life,” said Hughes, who also knew Nicholas Wyzykowski, the driver who is charged with intoxication manslaughter in the deaths of the Howards. They both attended the University of Alabama.
Hughes started a petition asking classmates to commit to not drinking and driving, saying: “I just hope other people will realize this is not a joke, and you have to make a conscious choice to never do it.”
SRE staff and counselors talked directly with the kindergarteners and all grade levels when school resumed this week following Christmas break. SRE has a box in the office for cards and artwork for the Howard family.
A Student Support gathering was held at VHS a few days after the crash and there has been Leander ISD counseling offered to students both at SRE and VHS.
On Monday, Austin Christian Fellowship opened its doors for the community to gather and had members of their Cares Ministry on site.
Families have put cards and flowers in front of SRE to honor Peggy and Cale.
Sarah Doolittle and Rich Keith contributed to this article.