Howard was born in Garnett, KS as the fifth child of Franklin and Nellie (Spriggs) McDowell. He excelled at basketball and football in high school and later at Ottawa (KS) University. In 1935, on a trip west, he was working in a hospital when he met and courted a R.N. named Helen Tucker. They were married in Vancouver, WA. Later they moved to southern California where Helen continued nursing and Howard took training to become an aircraft machinist. He went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in 1938. He worked with a team building the first prototype P-38 fighter. In 1940 at age 28 he was made supervisor of a 300 person team (including many "Rosie the riveters") producing B-17 wings. He continued as a supervisor at Lockheed until 1949 when the family relocated to Vancouver, WA. They operated the first self service laundry in Vancouver followed by raising chickens on a farm in the county. In 1952 he returned to being an aircraft machinist for a company that became the Portland OR division of Boeing. During the 25 years until his retirement he worked on and supervised production of key parts for every Boeing jet including the B-47, B52, 707,727,737 and the first 747. After retiring he helped with a family floral shop and enjoyed serious gardening. In 1993 he and Helen relocated to Bellingham to be near family. Following the death of Helen in 2003 he lived for many years at Parkway Chateau and then for the last year at Emeritus. Last year the whole family gathered in July to celebrate 100 years of a rich full life. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister Ethel, brothers Earl, Raymond, and Roscoe; and his wife Helen. He is survived by his son Howard (Diana); daughter Bettie Huntington (Gerald); grandson Michael McDowell (Carly); granddaughter Helen Farrell (Gene); granddaughter Holly Oliver (Chris ); grandson Rob (McDowell) Kirchner; granddaughter Kristine Huntington; and six great grandchildren: Zac Oliver, Andrew Farrell, Hannah Oliver, Gregory Farrell, Merrideth McDowell and Samuel Oliver. The family would like to especially thank Kathy Stamm for years of above and beyond personal care giving. For nearly twenty years Tisch Lynch, a dear friend and the pastoral staff at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church who have been a constant support. We would also like to express our thanks to all the personnel and staff at both Parkway Chateau and Emeritus for their care. For the last ten years Dr. Lindenbaum and the PeaceHealth Senior Center who have provided the medical care that helped dad reach his 100 year mile stone. Whatcom Hospice support was invaluable in the last months. A memorial service will be held at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church on Saturday March 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM. Remembrances should be directed to Christ the Servant Lutheran Church or Bellingham Central Lions Club. Please share memories at www.farewelltributes.com
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Feb. 26, 2013