Lifelong Holbrook resident John R. Howell III, better known as “John”, 70, passed away suddenly on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Winslow.
John was born on March 12, 1945, in Phoenix, the oldest of three children born to John and Fanette Howell. John was soon joined by his sister Katherine (Kate), and shortly thereafter the family moved to Holbrook so that his dad could help run the family business, Holbrook Electric (later Howell Electric). In 1953, John moved with his family to Fort Defiance as his dad was beginning a job as a business manager there. John spent the time from third through eighth grade in Fort Defiance before returning to Holbrook following the death of his grandfather, John R. Howell Sr., allowing his dad to continue the business. John and Kate were joined by their sister Anne shortly thereafter.
John graduated from Holbrook High School in 1963. Soon after, he moved to Las Vegas with his best friend Jack Young, and tended bar at such places as the Stardust Casino. He was then drafted into the United States Army, and was sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for basic training. After graduating from boot camp he was first assigned to Fort Ord, Calif., and then to an Army base in West Germany, during which time he was a clerk for two years. After his tour of duty was completed, John was discharged from the Army as a sergeant.
He then returned to Holbrook in early December 1967, where he met the love of his life, Elizabeth (Penny) Hunt. They were married on Nov. 1, 1968. In the summer of 1969 they moved to Phoenix so that John could attend air conditioning school and Penny could achieve her Master’s Degree in Education. In March 1972, they became parents to the first of two sons, as Robert Anderson (Bob) was born to them. Their second son, Phillip Carlton (Phil), was born in late December 1973. Although their family enjoyed living and working in Phoenix, they decided that it was best to return to Holbrook in order to help with the family business.
John worked with his dad until his dad decided to retire in 1982, and continued the business until mid-1984 when he started his work with Arizona Public Service Co. as a maintenance man. Although John was based out of the Cholla Power Plant, his territory for much of the time was from Snowflake to Page. He worked with APS until his retirement in 2004.
He joined the Holbrook Elks Lodge in November 1975, and soon became involved in its community activities, along with involvement in building the current lodge. He became a member of the lodge’s board of trustees in 1979. He spent five years on the board of trustees, followed by four years moving through the officer chairs, becoming Exalted Ruler of the lodge in 1987. After completing his term as Exalted Ruler, John spent time as a member and then state chairman of the Arizona Elks Association’s Lodge Activities Committee. In 1991 he was appointed to a one-year term as the district deputy and represented the Northern District of Arizona. After the term was over, John continued his active membership at the local level until his death. He was also a longtime member of the local American Legion Post No. 37.
In 1989 John was appointed to the Holbrook City Council, where he served from 1989 to 1991. In 1992 he was re-appointed to the city council, and served as vice mayor from 1992 until 1997. He very much enjoyed his time on the city council, including being able to interact with his fellow community members and speaking to members of the city staff.
He enjoyed designing and building such things as lamps and clocks for children born to friends and family. He also designed and built (with other members of the Elks Lodge) floats for the Holbrook Parade of Lights. His designs won many accolades from the community.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 47 years, Elizabeth “Penny”; his sons, Bob (Jennifer) of Bullhead City and Phil (Amy), of Pflugerville, Texas; his sisters, Kate of Safford and Anne of Prescott Valley; and his three grandchildren, Emma, Nicholas and Cara. He is also survived by several nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations made in John’s memory to be directed to the Elks National Foundation, 2750 N. Lakeview Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60614-2256.
Owens Livingston Mortuary-Holbrook was in charge of the arrangements.