Inventor Ronald Howes dies at age 83

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ronald Howes died at the age of 83 on Tuesday. Howes was best known for his invention of the Easy-Bake Oven. As director of research and new product development for Cincinnati-based Kenner Products, Howes made his famous invention in the early 1960s. The inspiration came from hearing the sentiment of a Kenner salesman returning from a trip to New York City. Kenner engineers concluded that the safest and most practical method of heating the Easy-Bake would be to use a light bulb. The bulb was later replaced by a heating element.

Howes was raised by his German grandmother and her American husband, as his mother died soon after his birth. He attended Walnut Hills High School but left during World War II to enlist in the United States Navy. Nancy Howes remarked that his grandmother assisted him in, "fib[bing] about his age". Howes later attended the University of Cincinnati. According to Christopher Howes, his son, one of his first jobs at Kenner was to remove potentially poisonous chemicals from the toy Play-Doh. Howes also contributed to what would later become a modern version of the Spirograph.

Christopher Howes said, "He had a fondness for the innocent, simple things in life." Howes continued to consider possible product designs even outside of work. His wife remarked, "We no longer have a garage in our house – it’s a physics lab". Howes was also a spiritual man and often taught Catechism classes for the Catholic Church. He had six children and fourteen grandchildren during his lifetime.

A memorial will be held in his honor next Monday, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.