Howard Williams was born in Tulare County, California. The family moved to San Diego when he was young. He attended the University of California before moving to California Hot Springs where he managed a resort developed by his father, a sea captain, stockman, citrus rancher, and pioneer irrigator. There he met and married Becky Stewart, a school teacher.
They moved to Porterville where Howard became secretary-manager of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the county planning commission. During World War II he was head of the Porterville rationing board and a member of the California State Guard.
In 1946, Howard was elected to the State Legislature where he served in the Senate for 16 years. He was recognized as an authority on water, finances, agriculture, and fish and game problems. He also took an active interest in the State tax structure, school financing, and better equalization of assessment practices. He served on the Senate Finance Committee for many years and was chairman of the sub-committee dealing with all items of capital outlay expenditures. As chairman of the powerful Joint Legislative Committee on Water Problems, he directed the studies and reports which pointed the way for legislation creating the State Department of Water Resources, the Feather River Project, and the San Luis Project. He also sponsored and supported legislation making possible better facilities for wider fields of agricultural research and improved standards for agricultural products. At the time of his death on May 7, 1962, he was chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources and a member of committees on Agriculture, Fish and Game, Finance, Labor, and Legislative Representation.
Howard was a member of Porterville Lodge 303 F & AM; honorary past commander of Porterville Commandery 67, Knights Templar; held high local and state offices in the Royal Arch Masons; and was a member of Eastern Star, the Moose and Elks lodges, the First Congregational Church, and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
Hard working and serious, he was also personable and humorous. He was honored at a number of testimonial dinners over the years and was named "Outstanding Man of the Community" in 1959 by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce.