Howard Mackey Biography
The Howard Mackey Gaucho Spirit Scholarship was established in spring 2020 to help deserving students continue their education and develop a spirit of learning throughout their lives. This scholarship is named in honor of Mr. Mackey, one of our beloved graduates and a former teacher. He was a dedicated, talented, and gifted educator who wanted to see all students succeed.Throughout Howard Mackey’s life, he exemplified what it means to be a Gaucho. He was involved with the school from the beginning and was a member of the first graduating class in February 1944. Howard's family moved in the 1930s from his birthplace in San Diego to El Cerrito. He grew up on C Street near Harding School and became a lifelong resident of El Cerrito. He and his classmates helped establish many ECHS traditions, including the school colors, mascot name and fight songs. He was the very first student body president, quarterback of the football team, and was chosen the “Most Outstanding Scholar Athlete” on the 1943 team.Mr. Mackey worked in the Richmond shipyards after school hours, and after completing high school he joined the U.S. Army, serving in Germany and France during World War II. At the end of the war, he went on to college, graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1950. He met his future wife, Barbara, at the university, and they married in 1951. They built their house in El Cerrito, and in 1953, Mr. Mackey returned to ECHS to become a math and history teacher before teaching math exclusively. He and Barbara had three sons, Kevin, Patrick and Bruce. He was active in the Richmond Federation of Teachers Union and was president of the union when they organized the first teachers' strike in California in 1966. He taught at ECHS until he retired in 1987.In 2005, just before the original school buildings were torn down, Mr. Mackey became involved in the ECHS Archiving Project. He helped go through the old buildings to save artifacts representing the school’s history. He also participated for 12 years on the scholarship committee. He found it challenging to make a decision on who would become a scholarship recipient, as he thought all the students were deserving. The Archiving Project and the Mackey family want to continue his legacy by offering the Howard Mackey Gaucho Spirit Scholarship to deserving students for years to come.
Mr. Mackey’s family are honoring their father’s El Cerrito High School education and teaching career with an annual $1500 scholarship. This scholarship will be presented to a student for their continuing education expenses.
Excerpt from 1964 Yearbook dedication to Howard Mackey
It is with great pride and pleasure that the El Camino staff dedicates it’s 1964 edition to an alumnus who well exemplifies this theme as a good teacher, good citizen and fine person…Mr. Howard Mackey.
Before Mr. Mackey entered the United States Army upon graduation, he had served as one of the first student body president of El Cerrito High school. His membership, in Los Hidalgos was for leadership and as a Senior, he was awarded the perpetual trophy as the outstanding member of the varsity football team. In the El Camino of that year he was described as “the sparkplug” of the “B” basketball team.
Having made a start as a good citizen of El Cerrito High School, Mr. Mackey served overseas with the armed forces defending our American heritage and was discharged as a sergeant, ready to resume his education.
Everyone who had known Mr. Mackey as a student, was happy to welcome him back to his high school alma mater as a faculty member, and they have never regretted the choice.
Mr. Mackey is not only a good classroom teacher, but he is also active and forthright in any cause that he feels with better educational conditions for students and teachers in the community. He is never afraid to use our American heritage of freedom to act and speak as his conscience dictates.
Mr. Howard Mackey possesses a fine character, kind heart, good sense of humor and reassuring integrity. In dedication this yearbook to him we are paying tribute to a rare kind of success..being a person who is at the same time an independent individual and a completely likeable human being.
Howard Mackey in Memoriam 2019
A revered teacher at ECHS from 1949 – 1988. Howard Mackey was also a student at the school in the first graduating class, the Class of 1944. He was a “founding student” of the school, he was very interested in continuing the memory of the school for future students. He had a hand in naming our school mascot, “The Gaucho” as well as picking our green and white school colors. To that end, he was also a founding member of the El Cerrito High School Archiving Committee at its inception in 2005. Sadly, Howard passed away on April 15, 2019 at the age of 95. Our condolences go out to his family. We on the Archiving Committee will miss him.
Life did not just happen to Howard – Howard went at life with a remarkable combination of enthusiasm, stoicism, and old-fashioned directness. Howard considered himself an El Cerrito product. One of those rarities of California — a native — Howard was born to a family that lived in El Cerrito around B Street, near the current Harding School. Howard remembered the days when the dog track (the site of the El Cerrito Plaza) was the epicenter of El Cerrito
Howard attended El Cerrito High School and returned to teach math there until his retirement. He was the Department Chairperson and a mentor to many students. The halls there have articles and photos of Howard serving his Alma mater and community.
Ever the teacher, Howard wanted us to know that failure followed by trying again was the key to everything.