Paul Leroy Howell, age 93, of Harrison, AR, went to sleep in Jesus on Monday, September 21, 2020. He passed away with his loving wife and youngest daughter at his side after a very brief, debilitating illness. He was a first a Christian; then a family man (son, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather); a hard worker; and always a good man to know.
He was known to all as a quiet, godly man, who the Bible would describe as an "upright and righteous man". He lived out his Christian beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist his entire life and faithfully attended, supported, and participated in that denomination, regardless of where he lived. He raised funds for the church booth at the local fair through collecting and recycling any kind of metals. He and Esther then manned the booth every year, witnessing to passers by. During his life he was an elder, deacon, teacher, maintenance provider, and caretaker for his local church. Even at 93, he was the primary groundskeeper for the Harrison SDA church.
He was a devoted family man whose love was so broad that it encompassed two separate families, which he effectively merged into one. He was the patriarchal focus of bi-annual family reunions (covering decades) that brought everyone who could back together from AR, IA, TX, OH, TN, MO, CA, OK, MN, and other states. The most recent Howell Family Reunion was held near Mountain Home, AR this last June just after Father's Day and was attended by 38 people.
He was the youngest of 6 children of William and Alma Howell (IA farmers) and lived through the depression, saw all his brothers participate in World War II and its aftermath, and in spite of dropping out of high school to take care of his family because of the war, ultimately completed his high school education with a GED. His parents and all of his brothers and sisters and their spouses (John, Wilbur/Sara, Lillian/Don, Leona/Charles, Wendell (Tat)), preceded him in death. He was the last of his parental family generation.
He married Laura (nee James) on July 25, 1948 and during their 43 years together had seven children, born over a 14 year period - 5 boys and 2 girls: in birth order – Ronald, Rodger, Pamela, Jill, Jeffery, Carmen, and Wesley. He is preceded in death by his wife Laura (1991) and daughter Jill (2017). From this family, he is survived by 6 of his children/4 spouses, 18 grandchildren/spouses, and 27 great grandchildren.
After Laura died in 1991, he found life alone (at age 63) unbearable - he could not "stand the sound of silence." He was led to find Esther Hintz, and they soon married on July 22, 1991. She had been widowed for 11 years with 4 teenage daughters: in birth order - Ruby, Nancy, Susan, and Ruth - a ready-made family to which he also opened up his heart in love. He willingly took on the challenge and was a living example of Christ's love. He successfully brought the two families together in such a way that we all now function as one large family. From this family, he is survived by his wife of 29 years, 4 daughter/4 spouses, and 8 grandchildren, one of which recently married.
In this merged family group are a total of 11 children (born over a 29 year span) with 8 spouses - all survive Paul except for his daughter Jill. In addition, Paul also has 24 grandchildren (12 of which are married) and 27 great grandchildren.
During his lifetime he was employed in many different ways - literally any work he could find to provide for his family. He made a profession as a self-employed, large scale beekeeper, focusing on producing honey at the wholesale level. Operating out of Sioux City, IA, at one time he had over 3,000 hives which he had in 62 locations in 6 counties of Iowa and South Dakota, producing over 400 55-gallon barrels of honey a year. These were extracted at two different honey houses located in Bronson, IA and Running Water, SD.
When that work became too labor intensive (at 45 years old), he moved to Alto, TX and cut East Texas loblolly pine for pulpwood until he was 55.
That too, became more physical that his body would tolerate, so he transitioned to 10 years of maintenance work at Hayes Memorial Hospital in San Marcos, TX. After moving to Keene, TX, he worked in the maintenance department at Town Hall Estates for 5 more years.
Even after retirement at 65, he never stopped working. In his late 60s, he and Esther moved to Harrison, AR and bought a piece of undeveloped land. He cleared the land of trees and stumps and built with his own hands the 2-story house in which he and Esther lived. He became well-known to their neighbors as someone who was always willing to help them correct problems in their homes. He was an excellent fix-it man, and came up with creative ways to engineer solutions to most any problem. He lived for his garden, in Keene, and in Harrison, growing all types of vegetables, but was best known for his delicious corn. He would grow enough to freeze and provide for the church all year long! Unfortunately, the wildlife that lived all around found out how delicious his garden was, and it was a constant battle to fend them off. Even with his creative traps and deterrents they still raided his garden constantly. He somehow was still successful at harvesting some produce, even though his sharing nature (unintentionally, this time) was providing mostly for them.
Paul will be greatly missed by all who knew or even met him, but he would want everyone to take comfort in the promise of the resurrection.
A memorial service celebrating Paul's life will be held at the Harrison, AR Seventh-day Adventist Church at 3:00pm on October 11, 2020.
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