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In Memoriam: John Howell

Longtime technician and instructor was a fixer and a fixture

Danielle Underferth

John Howell passed away on Sept. 27 at the age of 99. John served as a technician and ultimately an instructor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. His career spanned nearly 45 years, until his retirement in 2016. After that time, he could still often be spotted around the building. 

Before coming to the department, he worked in the electronics industry. He set up shop here in the same room he kept for nearly five decades, perhaps the only room on the 7th floor of the School of Public Health that has not changed at all in that time. In the 1980s he was given the title of Instructor because of his work and teaching of electronics to students, fellows, and faculty.  

In addition to his technical skills, John was an accomplished opera and stage actor. He appeared in many theatrical productions in several small theaters in Baltimore. He delighted coworkers by singing Gilbert and Sullivan tunes at one of his birthday celebrations.    

John was greatly appreciated and loved by all those who got to know him. He was always happy to see you and was more than willing to go out of his way to help with individual laboratory problems.  Those who worked with him remark, “John could fix anything.” 

John is survived by his daughter Ann W. Howell and her husband Tom Hickey; two granddaughters, Elinor Howell (and her wife Jessica LaVigne Howell) and Sarah Hickey.