Miriam Adams Howland nee Mazzola was born July 8, 1941, in Queens, New York. Her Italian father and Jewish mother baptized her and raised her in the Dutch Reformed Church, one of the many interesting contradictions in Miriam's life. Miriam passed away on March 9, 2017. She is survived by her brother Vincent Mazzola, her sister Frances Cantara, her nephew Kenneth Cantara, her Cambini cousins, their families in New York, and the family of her late husband, Dr. William Howland, who died in 1996.
She attended public schools, and enjoyed touring the construction sites of her grandfather's construction company. She did her undergraduate work at the City College of New York. After a brief marriage to Ronald Adams, Miriam landed a job at the New York World Fair. That job in public relations was a perfect start for her, with her short but commanding presence, red ponytail and knowledge of the city. She knew how to get things done.
In the mid-1960s it was still difficult for an educated single woman to begin a career, but she quickly established herself. As Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, she coordinated discrete visits and medical procedures and always confounded the press and paparazzi. Her impressive Rolodex included most of the politicians. She went on to receive her graduate degree in Public Health from Hunter College, and worked thereafter at Memorial Sloan Kettering in public health education, designing innovative programs focused on breast cancer education.
At a conference in Florida she met her husband, Dr. William Howland, an internationally-renowned anesthesiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and author of several medical treatises. He had a ski chalet near Mount Snow, where she took to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing—especially the steepest slopes. On summer weekends they traveled around Vermont in Bill's van. A boat trip on Lake Champlain ended in disaster, with a storm, Miriam on the ship-to–shore radio, and an anchor on the ferry line's underwater cable. From then on real vacations were taken by plane.
On one flight to Washington, D.C., the landing gear failed, and after a few circles, the plane made a belly landing in foam. Seated across from Senator Jacob Javitz, she grabbed him and declared, "You are my Senator, you had better save me." He carried her off the plane. At a fundraiser in the hidden rooms of the Metropolitan Opera, Placido Domingo accidentally knocked her over. The great tenor fell to his knees, kissed her hand and then embraced her, as the room gave them a standing ovation.
After retiring from Memorial Sloan Kettering in 1987, Miriam and Bill became residents of Guilford. As always, she easily met new friends. Although Bill fully retired, Miriam established Adams and Associates, a consulting firm, where she designed and wrote major National Institute of Health grants for hospitals and health organizations nationwide. Her work would bring her honors and international recognition, and she presented papers and seminars at the White House and several times in Paris.
She enjoyed and embraced other challenges, serving in various leadership positions on the board of the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. She and Bill were also strong supporters of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where she worked on the development committee. In addition, she served on the board of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and supported a variety of other local and state nonprofits.
Eleanor Roosevelt noted, "Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart." Miriam passed away quietly with Josh James, her aide-de-camp and longtime caregiver, holding her hand, and others who were close to her heart.
A private service is planned. A memorial reception will be held in the spring.
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