Dr. Irene Howell



Dr. Irene Howell, died on 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 Alabama while he was serving as a paratrooper in the 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, NC. 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, NC. 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 – 1978, elected to East Carolina University Chancellor’s Society - 1987, Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from Gov. James Martin – 1989, Daniel B. Pheifer Humanness Award From the Knights of Columbus & Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity at East Carolina University, Larry Scott Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Regional AAMR – 1991, LaGrange Citizen of the Year Award from the LaGrange, NC Chamber of Commerce – 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, 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 – Spouse Susan of Goldsboro, Joseph Allan Howell, PHD of Kinston, Valentine Howell-Melton, BSN, Spouse Larry of Greenville and David Reece Howell, DJP of Newport.
Grand children: Braxton Reeves of LaGrange, Fuller Reeves IV spouse Nici of Midlothian, VA, Adriane Reeves-Burke spouse Teresa of Stokesdale, Jody Howell spouse Danielle of Kinston, Morgan Howell of Greensboro, Jessika Howell of Kinston, Kamryn and Jolan Howell of Riverside, CA, Ashley Gray spouse Rachel of LaGrange, Lindsey Walkoviak spouse Randal of Greenville, Keely Gray of Greenville.
Great Grand Children: Chelsea Huggins, Conner Burkett, Justice Reeves-Burke, Fuller Reeves V, Braxton Reeves, Riley Reeves, Jacob Reeves, Jerrin Howell, Nathan Howell. Lucy Gray, Oliver Gray
Great Great Grand Children: Quintin Huggins, Jaxon Huggins.

Her Life Celebration will be at Westminster Methodist Church in Kinston, NC at 2:00 PM Saturday, March 10th. Rev. Tom Newman will be officiating with 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, PO Box 188, Kinston, NC 28502 or Westminster United Methodist Church Irene S. Howell Fund, 1001 Westminster Lane, Kinston, NC, 28501

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