Born On: June 15, 1938

Passed On: October 08, 2019

Karen J. Howell

Even as cancer claimed her body, Karen Jean Lytle Howell didn’t lose her love of family, her sense of humor or her desire to be outdoors.

She died peacefully Oct. 8 at age 81 at Mercy Hospital. She enjoyed her last days with family and friends at her side. She enthusiastically joined the song-singing, memory-sharing and story-telling.

Karen recently said that she was blessed and lucky to have such a fulfilling, wonderful life with meaningful connections to friends and family, and no regrets. She led an amazing life.

She was born June 15, 1938, in Saginaw, MI, the third child of Howard and Averill Lytle.

Karen, raised during the Great Depression, had a clear sense that hard work and a desire for learning would bring her far.  She spent her Arthur Hill High School days focused on baby-sitting as a way to pay for college. She was a patient caregiver for her mother, getting her driver’s license at age 14 so that she could drive mom Averill to doctors’ appointments. Her mother’s passing at age 59 had a profound impact on Karen as a young mother.

Karen was the sidekick of her dad, an Arthur Hill agriculture teacher and coach and the man whose birthday she shared. She usually was by his side at sporting events cheering for her brother. Summers were spent at the family cottage on LaSalle Island in Les Cheneaux, in Lake Huron. This setting forged a deep connection to nature, water, and her love of family.

Karen married Richard Hugh Howell after graduating from the University of Michigan’s dental hygiene program. They settled in Muskegon, MI to start a family and made a home on Wolf Lake. She was an incredible mother, and she gently encouraged all three children along their unique paths.

After marriage, Karen spent her career in Grand Haven, MI, as a dental hygienist for Drs. William and Kennard Creason and Dr. Walter Weber, until she retired to travel more. Soon she and Dick took up sailing and spent months on the water in the Great Lakes, the Caribbean, and Canada’s North Channel.

In her spare time, she rekindled an interest in painting and soon had requests for commissions of local landmarks, beach scenes and local color.  She was a member of the Gallery Uptown and illustrated a number of books written by her brother, Bob.

Several years ago she and Dick bought a winter home in Sun City West, AZ, and they became fast friends with new acquaintances in clubs, recreation centers, and in their close-knit neighborhood. Over the past year of fighting cancer in Muskegon, she immensely missed these far-away friends. Her last big adventure was a trip to Tuscany a year ago with her Arizona artist friends.

Her family plans a memorial celebration of Karen’s well-lived life. The celebration will begin at 1 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 3, at Lincoln Golf Club in North Muskegon, MI. Cremation has taken place, per her wishes. She asked that any memorial donations be made to Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, MI (

Her husband, parents and older sister, Amy Lou Rowe, preceded her in death.

Survivors include son Brookton Hugh Howell and his children, Samantha and Clay; daughter Pamela O’Dette Binns (husband Thomas) and their children, Trent, Krista, Kyle, Luke, Seth, Sean, Holly, Micah, Jeremy, Jenna, Carly, Lydia, and David; and daughter Tiffani Ave Carter (husband Christopher) and their children, Molly, Noah and Drew. Other survivors include great-grandchildren Ashton, Mya, Aiden, Rhettly and Arlon; her eldest sister, Patricia Shaler; younger brother, Robert Lytle; and nieces and nephews.


Shoreline Memorial Services of Muskegon 231-722-5050



Celebration of Life Gathering Information

Lincoln Golf Club
4907 Whitehall Rd.
Muskegon, Michigan 49445

Date: Sunday, November 03, 2019
Time: 01:00 PM

9 thoughts on “Karen J. Howell

  1. Dee Carlson

    Tiffani and family
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your mom. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet her…such a kind and loving person! Hugs

  2. Sharon Cottle

    My heartfelt sympathy to Karen’s family. She was such a delight! Always a smile and eager to help you in any way she could. We will miss her.

  3. Nephew Todd Rowe (#2 of 4 sons)

    Aunt Karen was very much like her next older sister, my mom, Amy Lou. They were both amazing moms. Aunt Karen was always so calm and understanding, but at the same time, if you messed up, you knew where you stood, which was usually still on her good side, cause she was so easy going. I have one of her paintings on my wall at home, of one of my mom’s favorite flowers, the Iris.
    Aunt Karen will always be in our thoughts, prayers and memories…there are so many. And her extended family is in all our hearts, today and every day. We all will miss Karen very much right now, but personally, I’m glad she is holding a nice spot for us.

  4. Ruth Fisher

    From the first time I met Karen, I felt I had known her forever. Her capacity for loving everyone, her positive, joyful spirit, her joy of painting and being a friend to all was amazing. What a full wonderful life! Never did I hear one complaint, Always finding the good in everything, she was a joy to be around. I will miss her immensely.
    My love to her big wonderful loving family. I know how much she adored each of you. God bless you. May you find comfort in all of your loving memories of this lovely lady.

  5. June Bavlnka

    To the family of Karen Howell,
    I am saddened to hear that Karen passed away. I so enjoyed getting to know her in SCW.
    I met Karen via the art club and started working with her on club membership. I loved our work time together and hearing about her family and discussing paintings. I often thought of her as an older sister, mentor, friend.
    She spoke of her family with such love and admiration. She looked forward to going back to Michigan every summer season to spend more time with all of you. I met Tiffany once when she was visiting Karen.
    I hope you all can find peace and comfort in the fond memories of your lovely mother and grandmother. She was indeed a Grand lady. I will miss her.
    My most sincere sympathy, June Bavlnka

  6. Janet R Hendrick

    Karen was a delightful person. I knew her because of her job but my finest memory of Karen was her joy for painting. My daughter was a very young artist but Karen got her a showing at the Eagelton Township Office Building. As a result my daughter continued to paint through high school and in college. Karen was an encouraged. Thank you Karen.

  7. Barbara Ruble

    Wishing the family peace as you remember and celebrate Karen. We were so fortunate to travel with her to Tuscany. In a short few weeks she became a close friend sharing her beautiful art and her joy of life! She will be remembered with much love! Barb & Jim Ruble

    1. Roy musgrove

      I married one of Karen’s grand daughters and was blessed to get to know her and her family , she was easy to love ,and very positive to be around you will surly be missed by your southern man as she called me .I pray her family finds peace as comfort during this time of loss .


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