Ed Howard, a vivid writer and colorful figure in Nebraska journalism for four decades, died Tuesday in Lincoln after a lengthy illness.

Howard worked for The Associated Press for most of his career, including stints in Columbus, Ohio, and New York City, before becoming Capitol correspondent for the AP in Lincoln in the mid-1970s.

In recent years, he wrote for the online StatePaper.com and authored columns for the Nebraska Press Association that were published in 65 newspapers.

"Ed was a wonderful writer and a true wordsmith," Allen Beermann, executive director of the NPA, said Wednesday. "He understood the issues, and he understood the players. He could cut to the chase very quickly."

Howard was connected and informed, blunt, witty and sometimes acerbic as he surveyed Nebraska's political and governmental scene.

"He could be very biting at times," Beermann said, "but he also was a writer who gave credit when credit was due, and he had a softer heart than most people probably realized."

Howard was born in Springfield, Ohio, on Sept. 3, 1948. 

While still in high school, he began his writing career as a part-time reporter at the Springfield News-Sun.

In 1968, he joined the AP, working in bureaus in Columbus and Cincinnati before moving on to the AP general desk in New York City. Howard was transferred to Omaha in 1971 and was named correspondent in charge of the AP's Lincoln bureau in 1974 at the age of 25.

Howard is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and two children, Kate Howard of Arlington, Va., and Edward M. Howard of Raleigh, N.C.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at dwalton@journalstar.com.