Irene Sarah (Whitmire) Howard was born to Samuel and Fannie (Dean) Whitmire on February 7, 1877 in Newberry County, South Carolina. She married Joseph Robert Howard before 1896 and they had two children before he died in 1901.
Howard came to Furman University in 1924, initially working as secretary to the Dean. She retired September 1, 1945, having spent many years as assistant registrar. The many students Howard had contact with over the years affectionately referred to her as “Mother” Howard. Howard passed away on March 18, 1955.