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Life Story / Obituary
Charles Richard Howell was a devoted family man, cherished friend and beloved child of God. Firmly believing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Richard lived the life of Christ in all he did. He was dedicated and hardworking in his vocation and fun-loving and attentive in his personal life. His children and grandchildren saw him as a teacher, leader and role model, and his friends valued him as the loving and generous man that he was.
Charles Richard was born to Luther Clindon and Odeline (Martin) Howell in Rockingham County, North Carolina on December 26, 1943. His birth extended the joy of the Christmas season amid the dominance of World War II in American life. As men went off to war and women were drawn into the workplace, the nation pulled together to make life as good as possible for the next generation. Luther and Odeline did their part, working as a tool-and-dye maker and a beautician, respectively.
Along with his younger sisters Cynthia and Lisa, Richard enjoyed a rather typical childhood in Spray, North Carolina. He liked to swim, ride his bicycle and read comic books as well as pull pranks. He and his pet boxer were always together, with the dog serving as his partner in crime. Perhaps it was this mischievous streak that earned Richard many nicknames—Charles, Charlie, Chuck, Richard, Rickey, Rick—as victims of his schemes called-out the prankster.
At the age of 9, Richard came down with spinal meningitis and fell into a coma. Gratefully, he survived the serious illness, but when he awoke from unconsciousness, he had completely lost his hearing. The young boy’s resilience helped him continue in regular education through 6th grade, but the arrangements of middle school proved to be more difficult as his friends headed off to various classes and Richard maneuvered on his own. After middle school, he transitioned to Morganton School for the Deaf in Morganton, North Carolina, where he learned American Sign Language and earned his high school diploma.
After graduation, Richard enrolled at Gallaudet University for the Deaf in Washington, D.C. and completed two years of study before taking to the road. He traveled to see the sights and visit friends, picking up jobs along the way to support himself. He stayed in Tennessee for about a year before moving back to his boyhood home of Spray, which had been renamed Eden. He landed a job running a four-color printing press with a business form company and became even more permanent when he met Cynthia Sheckells. In their two year courtship, the couple grew in love and commitment and were married on November 22, 1969. Over the years they were blessed with two children, Donna and Katie, whom Richard referred to as his “brightest stars.”
After 12 years of marriage, the family moved to Fairborn, Ohio. Richard’s work took him there, but he also took the opportunity to follow one of his dreams: learning to fly and getting his private pilot’s license. Following a 3-month assignment in Pennsylvania setting up a printing department in another business form company, Richard returned to Fairborn and prepared his family to move to Kalamazoo, Michigan. He had accepted a supervisory post for a printing company, and he remained in that position until he retired.
In retirement, more doors opened for Richard. He began teaching American Sign Language part time at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He spent his leisure doing carpentry work on his home and for others. He built a shed, installed hardwood floors and kept busy with various projects for his family, which had grown to include grandchildren. Each grandchild was the apple of his eye, and Richard gave them all his undivided attention. As he had done with his children, Richard taught his grandchildren that they could do anything they put their mind to. Truly, he was a supreme example of that very attitude.
Richard was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and a friend to many. He was loved and respected by those who had the privilege of knowing him, and he will be deeply missed.
Charles Richard Howell, age 71 of Portage, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 while surrounded by his family at home. Members of his family include his wife of 46 years: Cynthia Howell, daughters: Donna (Tony) Vaccaro, Katie (Ernie Fluty) Howell, three grand children: Tucker and Molly Searles, and Layla Fluty, sisters: Cindy (Ronnie) Swinney, and Lisa Howell. He is preceded in death by his parents, Luther and Odeline Howell, and a granddaughter, Angel Fluty. A visitation will be held on Friday, October 9 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Homes, Portage. A service will be held at the same location on Saturday, October 10 at 12 noon with a visitation one hour prior. Please visit Richard’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, sign the guestbook, or share a memory or photo. Those who wish may make a memorial contribution to Be the Match, (a National Marrow Donor Program).