John Reid Howell (1940-2017)

My dad passed away Sunday morning. Mom and I expected it to happen, as he chose not to have surgery that would have increased the quantity of his life but reduced the quality.
 
He was a good man who had a quietly interesting life. Served in the Army as a redleg. Lived in Mississippi in turbulent times, once waiting with his landlord holding rifles on their laps on the road that led to the black church also on the landlord’s property. Lost out on a PhD by cruel timing, but in the end, that led him to computers where he had a much better life than he would have. Wrote the enrollment software in 1971 for Hill Junior College from scratch, and worked for many years in Artificial Intelligence. Decided to bring Kansas to the internet in the early 90s by making over 300 websites, including one for each town in Kansas and uploading a large collection of Kansas poetry. He did this for years until finally Boeing loaned him to the state of Kansas to do this officially. There’s lots more.
 
He gave me many things, especially a love of reading. There are hundreds of you out there who have scrolls on your walls with texts that I have written. Those don’t happen without him.
 
I’ll miss him. I got to say goodbye last Wednesday before starting this trip, knowing it might happen while I was gone. I’ll still miss him.
 
We all agreed I should continue, though. Sunday, I found an interesting place to eat in Chattanooga. He gave me a passion to try out new restaurants. Yesterday, I came to Frederick, MD on my way towards Birka. I’ll see some places I’ve never been before. I get my wanderlust and desire to see what’s on the other side of the hill from him too.
 
Mom is doing as well as can be hoped. She was with him, and they talked about the cats they had and moments in their life until he slipped away. She also has a wonderful support group at Larksfield Place, where such moments are all too frequent. I’ll be going there immediately after Birka and staying as long as needed.
 
Many of you will want to offer condolences here. I’d rather you didn’t. Feel free to hit one of the Facebook likes, but if you’re reading this, I know you are sympathetic and I thank you.
 
Instead, I’d really appreciate if you did something nice for someone. Something small. Don’t care what. Buy someone coffee. He liked coffee. Buy someone a beer. He liked beer more. Or just help someone carry a load of stuff. He was a good man, who would like the idea of nice things done in his memory.

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