John Howell, an original faculty member of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas, Mo., was remembered fondly following his death at 92 on Sept. 6 after a short illness.
John, of Village of Oaks, Mo., taught Christian ethics, served as faculty dean and vice president of academic affairs at the seminary during his tenure from 1960 until his retirement in 1999. Then he was named dean emeritus.
A Sept. 11 memorial service at the church where he and his late wife, Doris, were longtime members — Second Baptist in Liberty, Mo. — gave family, colleagues and other friends a chance to fondly remember Howell. Interment was in Barry Cemetery.
In his message, Pastor Jason Edwards recalled, “John’s son Mark described him as a man of rare calm, consistency and quality through challenging times.”
Mark also spoke. He recalled his decision following the death of his mother and John’s beloved wife, Doris, in 2013, to move back home to his parents’ home to lend assistance to his father. He described the mutual appreciation both father and son felt as a result.
The pastor said John’s other son, Mike, echoed Mark in describing their father. Mike said John was strong but not rigid. “No, Mike said, Dad was always open, always willing to listen to another’s point of view, which is one of the many things that made him such a great teacher and such a great dad,” the pastor said.
Two others shared remembrances at the service: seminary colleague Sanford Beckett, who recalled some of those memorable experiences on campus, and now-retired pastor Michael Olmsted.
Olmsted, who served Second Baptist as interim pastor for nearly two years, recalled the close friendship that developed between him and his wife, Nan, and John and Doris Howell during that time. “We shared the idea that a minister and wife were a team in God’s service,” Olmsted said.
Olmsted recalled officiating at the wedding of a young couple during the interim, and that the couple’s relationship began to collapse almost immediately. “I asked John to help them solve the tensions, which he graciously agreed to do,” Olmsted said.
John was born Feb. 24, 1924, in Miami, Fla., to Heman and Laura Howell. He grew up in Miami and focused on journalism during high school. At 16, John went to work in his parents’ restaurants until the death of his mother.
He served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific and — while a passenger in a Jeep that was struck on his side by a large truck — was seriously injured and spent three months in a body cast.
Upon his return home to Miami he met Doris and, a little later, they began their 66-year marriage.
John graduated from Stetson University, Deland, Fla., in 1952 and earned his first doctorate in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1960. Later that year he was invited to come to the fledgling seminary.
During those years he held pastorates in Crowley, Texas, and Bradenton, Fla.
John’s career included recognition as an outstanding educator and excellence in family ministry. He was the author of nine books on marriage and family life and contributed to many others, was a marriage counselor for 11 years at Midwest Christian Counseling Center and was a family life conference leader in the U.S., England, Europe and Africa, usually accompanied by his wife.
At Second Baptist, he led the Senior Adult Department. Until a few weeks ago, he wrote a weekly Sunday School lesson commentary for the print edition of Word & Way and then for the magazine’s website. He did that for nearly 15 years, producing weekly lessons.
In addition to his sons, survivors include grandchildren John (Rachel) Howell and Lauren (Michael) Ginestra; and great-grandchildren Audrey and Jayce.