Jerome Gordon Howell (1930 – 2017)
January 24th, 2018
Jerry Howell, minister, bookseller and connoisseur of West Coast Island life, who thought of himself as the “luckiest fellow in the world,” passed away on November 9, 2017.
Born in Detroit Michigan, Jerry, an exceptional student, grew up in McAllen, Texas, where he mastered Spanish. He joined the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence specialist during the Korean War and subsequently graduated from the University of Texas in 1957 with a degree in anthropology. Always interested in social action, Jerry trained as a Unitarian minister at the Star King Divinity School in Berkeley. In 1968, he moved with his wife Elaine and their children to Calgary, Alberta to lead the lively congregation at the Calgary Unitarian Church. He later took on positions as a Human Resources administrator at the University of Alberta library and the Vancouver School Board. In 1978, he and his second wife, Thora, began their careers as booksellers in Nanaimo, B.C. Their store, The Bookstore on Bastion Street, was for many years the cultural institution in the growing city, and a place where Jerry was always happy to track down special orders.
Jerry will be greatly missed by Thora, his wife and partner of 45 years; his sons Clayton (Linda), Andy (Trish), and Gordon (Shaun); as well as his much loved grandchildren Addison, Aaron, Caity, Vinny, and Max.
Jerry had a passion for creating meaningful interactions with neighbours, friends, customers and fellow ferry passengers. He savoured companionship and conversation. He welcomed, listened to, and shared opinions with everyone he encountered. He had a talent for reading aloud the literature that brought him joy: from poetry to James Thurber and especially the stories he could replay to audiences of rapt children. He loved music of all kinds, particularly chamber music. He could dance at the drop of a hat, having cultivated a graceful style despite being a tall man. He instinctively knew how to age with grace, dignity and love. Protection Island was a haven for him and islanders remember his joyful spirit, wit, humour and smile.
The family is appreciative of the care given by Dr. Love, Dr. Swanson, Dr. Rumble, Dr. Bowen and Dr. Whitelaw and the medical staff of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s sixth floor.