Ethel “Carolyn” Casey Howell
4 July 1918, Spring Garden, Alabama - February 6, 2018, Houston, Texas
On the 4th of July 1918, Ethel Carolyn Casey was born at her family’s farm home at the foot of Casey Hill near Spring Garden in Cherokee County, Alabama, to Porter Cleveland Casey and Lula Adele Mauldin. The farm was settled in 1832 by her great-grandfather, Wiley Casey and his wife, Matilda White. Carolyn was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on the service of Wiley’s grandfather, Daniel Casey. Carolyn was one of five siblings, all of whom predeceased her. Nearly a centenarian, she saw many changes in her lifetime—culturally, politically, technologically and otherwise. (She marveled that one could buy a Coke from a vending machine with a credit card.) Carolyn’s family moved by wagon from Casey Hill to Alexandria/Wellington in Calhoun County, Alabama, when she was six months old. She grew up living on a farm, originally without electricity, plumbing or running water, where they grew their own food, made their own clothes, were totally self-sufficient and survived the Great Depression without feeling poor. As one of twelve seniors who graduated with her class from Alexandria High School, Carolyn was the valedictorian, was chosen as the “Wittiest” and “Prettiest Girl” and played on the women’s volleyball team. When World War II broke out, she did her part by working as a telephone operator at the Army’s Ft. McClellan, near Anniston. There she met her future husband, career Army officer Captain Robert Lee Howell, Sr. After marriage, she experienced Army life in Macon and Decatur, Georgia; Yokohama, Japan; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Robert died in 1955 at age 42, so Carolyn returned to the south to live in Gadsden, Alabama with their three young children. Her experiences as an Army wife established a foundation of fortitude and independence which enabled the young widow to be at ease handling family and household responsibilities on her own for the decades to come. At the age of 99-1/2, she still lived independently, having never remarried.
As she was growing up, Carolyn’s mother read the Bible to her children each night in the light of an oil lamp. A lifelong Methodist, Carolyn was an active member of East Gadsden United Methodist Church from 1955 until her move to Houston in 2007 to be near a daughter’s family. She then became a faithful member of Houston’s First Methodist Church, volunteering each week to sew clothing for Missions projects. At the same time, this bastion of southern-lady conservatism loved to read trashy detective novels back to back. She set her clock to “Wheel of Fortune” each day, worked crossword puzzles incessantly, loved to scour resale shops for fabulous bargains and was a dedicated coupon clipper. She recycled old jewelry into new pieces and enjoyed various crafting and sewing projects. In her younger days Carolyn was an accomplished watercolorist—her creative abilities abounded. In her last years, she wrote a short children’s poem which was put to music by Anthony Rogers of First Methodist Church. A pushover for anything sweet or chocolate, Carolyn enjoyed cooking, baking and tending to her “garden,” a window-box of blooming flowers she changed seasonally. Carolyn took pride in her appearance, coordinating her ensembles with care, and was never caught without earrings except in dire emergency. As a huge University of Alabama football fan, Carolyn’s wish came true when she was able to actually attend the Bama/Texas A&M game at Kyle Field, then watch her team go on to win the 2017 National Championship.
Carolyn was predeceased by her husband, Capt. Robert L. Howell; siblings Roy (wife Evelyn Wilks); Mildred (husband Sol Morgan); Dorothy “Dot (husband Hollis Boozer) and Donald P. Casey (wife Evalene Holcomb). She is survived by daughters Joyce Harris (Michael), Barbara Richey (Van), son Robert “Bob” Howell, Jr.; grandchildren Christy Harris and Jeff Harris (wife Sherri), Lauren Richey; great-grandson Ryan Harris; many nieces and nephews, including special nieces Camille Casey Simmons (Robert) and Janice Casey Knight (Terry).
The family would like to recognize Dr. Sarah Selleck, Dr. Leland Winston, and the entire staff at Houston Hospice for their compassionate and skillful care, and Rev. Ann Spears of First Methodist Downtown Houston.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 pm on Thursday, February 15 in the chapel of First Methodist Downtown Houston. Interment will be held at Crestwood Cemetery, Gadsden, Alabama, at a later date to be announced.
In lieu of usual remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to the Woodward Fund (choir), First Methodist Houston, Finance Office, 1320 Main St., Houston, TX 77002 or to the Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030.