For Terry Howerton, life was thrilling and hectic and exciting as he founded the Illinois Technology Association and then TechNexus with colleague Fred Hoch and was in the midst of a thriving and active IT community. But the single guy with no kids suddenly found himself raising his two teenage nieces after his sister and his mother each died of cancer.
At 39, his life changed and so did his tech-related work.
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He recently resigned as chairman of ITA, which had spun off from Palatine-based Chicago Software Association, and now Howerton is focusing on raising his nieces.
On Jan. 25, he posted on Facebook: "This morning at 8:22 a.m. marks the moment that I fully transformed from wickedly cool uncle to tragically unhip parent, as I waved and shouted out the car window to the teenage girl who forgot her mittens as she disappeared into a sea of new classmates."
Then Thursday, he got his first call from the school nurse to pick up one niece, who was sick, Howerton said.
"I've always been a major part of their lives, so this didn't come out of the blue," Howerton said.
But the death of his sister did. After she died of cancer a few years ago, Howerton's mother took the girls in and raised them. But a month ago, his mother died of cancer as well. So Howerton did what any devoted family member would do, he took the girls from their Missouri home and moved them to his Elmhurst home.
His family tragedies were only part of the reasons he resigned from ITA, he said.
"There are other things to think about in life and that influenced only a part of the decision with ITA," he said.
As founder, Howerton said he wanted to move on after seven years and give the reigns to fresh blood in the organization. "It's time to have someone else take over," Howerton said. "Every founder has a tough time stepping away, but it's time."
And the addition of two young girls will change a lot in his life.
While he has enjoyed the energy produced, especially as he continues work with TechNexus, he loves watching the local startups take life and grow.
"As an entrepreneur, I've led a pretty crazy schedule and lifestyle," he said . "All of sudden, there's this constant need."
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