03/07/18 — DR. IRENE HOWELL

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Nov. 5, 1928-March 3, 2018

Dr. Irene Howell, died March 3, 2018, at the age of 89.

Born in Lenoir County, she was the daughter of the late Burchard Taft Smith and Addie Heath Smith.

Her father was killed in Lumberton in a train accident in 1933.

She was also preceded in death by her mother; stepfather, David C. Smith; her only sister, Mary Ellen "Duck" Harper; and grandson, Sean A. Webb.

Married in 1943 to Gordon Reece Howell Jr., they met on a train trip from Birmingham, Ala., while he was serving as a paratrooper in the United States Army.

The birth of her first grandchild with profound developmental disabilities began the life altering situations that resulted in Dr. Howell founding Howell's Child Care Centers, which included centers in Goldsboro, LaGrange, Greenville, Greensboro, Thomasville, Charlotte and New Bern, N.C.

She set up a program approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, which was licensed as a non-public school for handicapped children.

She established an independent living facility for spinal injury in 1995 and a pilot program for providing care for vent dependent infants in Greenville, N.C., in partnership with the School of Medicine.

She was a major contributor to the "Irene Howell Assisted Technology (IHAT) Department" at East Carolina University, which provides assistive technology to disabled individuals.

She wrote an autobiography titled "There for Others," highlighting the turning points in her life's journey.

A graduate of Deep Run High School, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in letters from East Carolina University in Greenville and an honorary doctorate degree in laws from North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.

She received multiple humanitarian awards including B'Nai B'rith Award for Human Relations in Charlotte in 1978, elected to East Carolina University Chancellor's Society in 1987, Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from Gov. James Martin in 1989, Daniel B. Pheifer Humanness Award from the Knights of Columbus and Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity at East Carolina University, Larry Scott Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Regional AAMR in 1991 and LaGrange Citizen of the Year Award from the LaGrange, N.C., Chamber of Commerce in 2002,

She served in multiple capacities; corporate administrator of Howell's Child Centers Inc., member of LaGrange United Methodist Church, local BB&T board of advisors Goldsboro, NC., Wayne County Community College human services advisory committee, Lenoir County College mental health associate advisory committee, president of the North Carolina Association of Residential Resources and ambassador to China with the "People to People Program" in the field of mental health.

Dr. Irene Howell is survived by her husband of 74 years, Gordon Reece Howell Jr.; children, Gail Howell Sims, PHD, of LaGrange, Jerald Taft Howell, CDP, and spouse, Susan, of Goldsboro, Joseph Allan Howell, PHD, of Kinston, Valentine Howell-Melton, BSN, and spouse, Larry, of Greenville and David Reece Howell, DJP, of Newport.

Grandchildren, Braxton Reeves of LaGrange, Fuller Reeves IV and spouse, Nici, of Midlothian, Va., Adriane Reeves-Burke and spouse, Teresa, of Stokesdale, Jody Howell and spouse, Daniele, of Kinston, Morgan Howell of Greensboro, Jessika Howell of Kinston, Kamryn and Jolan Howell of Riverside, Calif., Ashley Gray and spouse, Rachel, of LaGrange, Lindsey Walkoviak and spouse, Randal, of Greenville and Keely Gray of Greenville.

Great-grandchildren, Chelsea Huggins, Conner Burkett, Justice Reeves-Burke, Fuller Reeves V, Braxton Reeves, Riley Reeves, Jacob Reeves, Jerrin Howell, Nathan Howell, Lucy Gray and Oliver Gray

Great-great-grandchildren, Quintin Huggins and Jaxon Huggins.

Her life celebration will be at Westminster Methodist Church in Kinston, N.C., at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 10. The Rev. Tom Newman will be officiating, with the Rev. Ray Teague assisting.

The family will receive condolences immediately after the service and other times at the home.

The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to LCC Foundation, Irene Smith Howell Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 188, Kinston, N.C., 28502, or Westminster United Methodist Church Irene S. Howell Fund, 1001 Westminster Lane, Kinston, N.C., 28501.

Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home is serving the Howell family, and online condolences may be directed to www.shumate-faulk.com.


Published in Obituaries on March 7, 2018 8:05 AM