Dad’s Birthday

Dad would have been 88 years old today. I had trouble finding his Obituary so i decided that if I located it i would post it here. Versions of the following appeared in the Hood River News and the Peninsula Clarion in Alaska.

Harry Howell

Local services are pending for Harry Lee Howell, Sr., who passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 24, 2002, at the age of 74. Harry was born Aug. 9, 1928, in Hood River to Harry A. and Lacey Howell. He was a life-long resident of Hood River until he moved to Kenai Peninsula in Alaska in the mid 1970s. He attended Barrett grade school, Hood River High School, and Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. He married Sue Jane Dempsey on Oct. 4, 1950.

He was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He was the kind of grown-up who got down and rolled around on the floor with the kids in his life. He loved all animals and had no fear of even the most vicious junkyard dog.

During his life, job skills included mechanic, plumber, electrician, carpenter, body and fender man, heavy equipment operator, welder, and logger. While living in Oregon, he helped build the John Day Dam and the first ski lifts at Mount Hood Meadows. He also worked on the Alaska Pipeline.

He had many interests over the years. He was a minister and pastor, philosopher, theologian, athlete, hunter, fisherman, photographer, painter, singer, musician, mushroom gatherer, collector of old bottles, antiques, and various items whose values weren’t always readily apparent to the rest of us. His most recent hobby was building birdhouses. He was a favorite customer at second hand stores, coffee shops, and garage sales. During recent years he had begun to focus his gathering activities on Coca-Cola items and became known on the Kenai Peninsula as the “Coca-Cola Man.” Other nicknames include “Red” and “Red Dog.”

He never knew a stranger and could make a friend anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstance. He is considered by many to be the originator of the world renowned full body gesture known as the Arthropitter. He will be remembered for his infectious laugh, described by most as a cackle, his mischievous grin, and his music. His children will always remember Sunday afternoon drives when they would head for the hills and drive dirt roads that angels feared to tread. He loved life and enjoyed it to the fullest.

He was an independent man who would build it or do it himself rather than hire someone. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do. He played music by ear. He would sometimes struggle with sheet music at the piano, then toss it aside in disgust and the music would flow effortlessly. The day before he left us, he sang Blue Christmas as a solo during a luncheon at the local senior center near his home in Alaska.

Those who knew him have been blessed with an abundance of memories and great stories.

His parents, and sisters Eileen Chapman and Harriet Babcock (who passed away on Dec. 19, 2002) preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Sue Jane Howell of Soldotna, Alaska; son and daughter-in-law Harry and Janice Howell of Oakville, Wash.; daughter and son-in-law Debora and Ron Friedrich of Oregon City; daughter and son-in-law Yvonne and Tom Bryant of Hood River; son and daughter-in-law Kenneth and Michelle Howell of Soldotna, Alaska; eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; sisters Blanche Wirrick of Sherwood, Ore., and Eila Carmichael of Eugene, Ore.; and nine nieces and nephews.

Heaven will never be the same.



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