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 (www.leaderdog.org).
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