Steven Richard Howell, 66, entered this world on June 19, 1946 appropriate, as summer was one of his favorite times, with any good weather giving a chance to be on his boat.
With Andrea and her daughter, Elizabeth, at his bedside, he passed away peacefully on November 27, 2012 also appropriate, as it is ski season, which he loved. He's probably swooping from skiing to boats over there, with family and friends who have gone on before.
Steve was born in Port Angeles, attending school there. Later, a move to Seattle had him graduating from Shoreline High School in 1964. He completed his Junior year at the University of Washington
, majoring in physics. He wasn't able to finish at UW, so the military pounced, offering him an "invitation" to enlist it being the Viet Nam era. He chose the Navy, serving as an Aviation ASW Operator; also instructing when needed. Thinking he was done at some point, he made plans to finish school, but was recalled to serve a bit more. UW was put on hold indefinitely.
Steve was a gifted man, with a brilliant mind, but it was coupled with some challenges at times. Still, when all was well, he excelled in whatever he desired. He loved variety and education; his career history echoes his interests. He started early helping his Dad in the construction business, then intertwining more than 10 years of commercial fishing in Alaska with other jobs down here. He had over 30 years experience in building and rigging ships, yachts, and boats. He built two of his own, one a 32-foot sailboat he named "Crow," and a fishing boat which also raced well. Employment also covered electronics of many types, starting with Boeing, as an Electromagnetic Test Technician. He later owned Cherrystone Marine, a boat business in LaConner. Being a Project Manager for LaConner Maritime Services was woven in. While in LaConner, he met Andrea at a dance at the "1890s." He later became Project Manager for TPS Services of Sedro-Woolley, directing construction crews and creating permit/construction drawings. Wanting to learn more about computer automation and electronic instrumentation control technology, he took a break and enrolled in Bellingham Technical College, where he earned an Associate in Applied Science Degree. Shortly after, a unique opportunity came along when he was hired as a Marine Electrician at Nichols Brothers Boats, to help build "The Empress of the North," a 360-foot sternwheeler, the first to cruise Alaskan waters again in over 100 years. Later, he supervised at Aluminum Chambered Boats in Fairhaven, helping to design new boats and system enhancements. To be closer to home, he became a contract Electrical Technician at PACCAR Technical Center from which he retired October 26, 2011. His retirement only lasted 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day, but his numerous talents were put to further use down on the farm, helping others, and tinkering on boats and fast cars.
In 2005, he had suffered a very serious bout with throat cancer, and subsequent massive radiation and chemotherapy. He worked hard to get beyond all that; we were amazed he returned to work so soon. Recent years revealed slow, but persistent declines in energy. The past 3 months, he was getting tired. In October, he endured another surgery - relevant to cancer treatment effects. The past couple weeks, his interest in small pleasures decreased daily. Perhaps he felt his time to "go home" was coming soon.
Despite his occasional challenges, I hope Steve will be remembered for his willingness to help, having a bright and inquisitive mind, creativity, many talents, wry wit, love of life, friends, pets, boats, fast cars, avid reading, pronounced political opinions, skiing, music, dancing, and more. I will miss our Sunday breakfasts and excursions - and conversations about our shared world views. We also believed in a Creator who produced and loves the marvels of a diverse world - and that departed loved ones also send occasional signs of hope.
Steve's parents, Jack and Helen, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his long-time "Significant Person," Andrea Xaver, (plus, Slick, the cat, the chickens, and the wild birds) of the Ehrlich area, and the rest of the supportive and much-loved Significant Family - Andrea's daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Ken Stewart, and their children Levi, Carly, and Sophie, also near Big Lake. His sister, Vicki, of the Seattle area, survives him, as well.
The family would like to thank the wonderful Big Lake and Clear Lake firefighters who just happened to be at Big Rock where Steve and I shared our last breakfast, Jen Breathour who was working there and took time to stand by me until my family arrived; Dr. Bonita Baker, Nurse Janine Cook, and other great folks at Skagit Valley Hospital's Critical Care Unit.
Donations can be made to the outstanding fire departments of Big Lake and Clear Lake, the
, or the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
A Very Casual Memorial will be held Sunday, December 16, 2012, 2:00 p.m., at the Big Lake Fire Hall. (Dress warm.) Let's remember, mingle, laugh, munch cookies, and wish Steve happiness and all things wise and wonderful in his new life.
Please share your memories of Steve on our webpage: www.lemleychapel.com