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Burt Howells died peacefully on September 25, 2012, in Port Townsend. The cause of death was cancer, originally diagnosed in April. He was 76.
Burt Howells was a loving family man, a successful businessman, a beloved friend to many, an inspiring spirit and a fun-loving, charming presence in our community. During his seven years in Port Townsend, he became a valued volunteer and benefactor of numerous organizations devoted to the good of his community and its citizens.
He was proud of his Welsh heritage. He enjoyed sailing and bird-watching. He was active throughout his life in political and environmental causes.
Born in Pasadena, California, to Arthur Lee and Bette Vick Burton Howells, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a business degree.
On February 21, 1959, he married Judith Sherman Pickard in Los Angeles.
Serving on active duty in the Army Reserve from 1962 to 1964, he rose to the rank of sergeant. Years later, he became an active member of the Olympic Peninsula Tony van Renterghem Chapter of Veterans for Peace.
Burt Howells' business pursuits focused on the sale of architectural products to hospitals. He traveled the country in this work, and in 1995, he formed his own company, Delta Medical Products.
With his wife, Judith, a nurse who became a leading cancer research administrator, Burt and the family relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 1970s, thereafter moving to the Chicago area, to Seattle and back again to Madison and then Chicago. Burt became a widower in 2000 and retired to Port Townsend in 2005.
Burt was known as a walker and one who curtailed his carbon footprint by regularly using public transit. He picked up trash, pulled scotch broom and worked to reduce plastics in the environment. His numerous organizational affiliations and activities included volunteering for the Marine Science Center and taking weekly water samples during the summer and delivering them to the Health Department for analysis; he was also an active and valued member of the Jefferson County Beach Watchers with the Washington State University Extension office.
He supported the Native American Tribal Canoe Journey landings at Fort Worden by providing water coolers in lieu of bottled water; worked with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition on salmon habitat restoration and the eradication of white clover at Irondale Beach; and participated in Local 20/20's Energy Action Group, including support of the local initiative to authorize our public utility district to acquire the electric distribution grid from a privately held corporation.
He volunteered at the farmers market and the Wooden Boat Festival, where he spearheaded the effort to sell metal water bottles and educate about the dangerous impacts of plastic in the Puget Sound and beyond; engaged with the Jefferson County Democrats as membership chair, campaign manager, get-out-the-vote activist and leader of the party's contingent in the 76th annual Rhododendron Parade in 2011; and acted as the newscaster in Key City Public Theatre's 2010 production of "Prisoner of Second Avenue."
Burt was preceded in death by Judith, his beloved wife of 45 years.
He is survived by his sister, Virginia Campbell of Glendale, California; children Jeffrey Howells of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Linda Howells of Bellevue, Washington, and Susan Howells of Alexandria, Virginia; and by his grandchildren, Clare (16), Trevor (13), Julie (10) and James (2).
A memorial gathering will be held on Sunday, October 7, 2012, at 4 p.m. at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water Street in Port Townsend. Guests are encouraged to bring stories and other remembrances to be compiled in a three-ring binder as a keepsake for Burt's grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations in Burt's memory are invited to the Jefferson Land Trust, 1033 Lawrence Street in Port Townsend.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Oct. 3, 2012