Harry Lee Howell Sr.


Posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Soldotna resident Harry Lee Howell Sr. died Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2002. He was 74.

Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center.

Mr. Howell was born in Hood River, Ore., on Aug. 9, 1928, to Harry A. and Lacey Howell. He was a resident of Hood River until he moved to the Kenai Peninsula in 1975. He was a graduate of Hood River High School and Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. He married Sue Jane Dempsey on Oct. 4, 1950.

During his life, Mr. Howell's jobs 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 trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

He had many interests over the years, including time spent as a minister and pastor, philosopher, theologian, athlete, hunter, fisher, photographer, painter, singer, musician, mushroom gatherer and collector of old bottles, antiques and various items. His latest hobby was building birdhouses.

He was a favorite customer at secondhand stores, coffee shops and garage sales. During recent years he had begun to focus his gathering activities on Coca-Cola items and became known as the "Coca-Cola Man."

"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," his family said.

"He never knew a stranger and could make a friend anywhere, anytime and under any circumstance. 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 he drove 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 Soldotna senior center. Heaven will never be the same."

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters, Eileen Chapman and Harriet Babcock.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Sue Jane Howell of Soldotna; sons and daughters-in-law, Harry and Janice Howell of Oakville, Wash., and Kenneth and Michelle Howell of Soldotna; daughters and sons-in-law, Debora and Ron Friedrich of Oregon City, Ore., and Yvonne and Tom Bryant of Hood River; sisters, Blanche Wirrick of Sherwood, Ore., and Eila Carmichael of Eugene, Ore.; 11 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and nine nieces and nephews.

Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.

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