Laurie Ann (Lyons) Howell, 58, passed away peacefully on February 3, 2011 at home, surrounded by her family. Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at 1pm Tuesday, February 8 at Boyne Falls School, Pastor Tim Wright of the Greensky Hill and Horton Bay United Methodist Churches officiating. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Stackus Funeral Home of Boyne City with visitation taking place at the funeral home on Monday, February 7 from 6pm to 8pm.
Laurie was born on January 2, 1953, in Charlevoix, to Capitan Richard B. Lyons and Ruth (Beckwith) Lyons. She graduated from Charlevoix High School in 1971 and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Grand Valley State University in 1975. Ever adventurous and wanting to serve a higher cause by helping others Laurie joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), a Federal Government Program which is the domestic version of the highly successful Peace Corp Program.
In 1976 Laurie received a National Service Award from VISTA for her prison work developing a newspaper run by the female inmates of Stone Mountain Prison in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The award was presented by Joan Mondale, wife of United States Vice-President Walter Mondale.
After serving her country for two years Laurie returned to Michigan and on September 24, 1977 married Tommy Howell of Rockford, Michigan. They settled in the Boyne Falls area where she lived and worked until her death.
In 1978 Laurie began her professional career at Petoskey’s Half Way Home (Harbor Hall) as a substance abuse counselor. The following year she accepted a position with the Charlevoix County Friend of the Court’s office. Later she served as the Charlevoix County District Court Probation Officer. Colleagues to this day speak about Laurie’s work ethic and her devotion to fairness as well as her uncanny ability to give those under her care opportunities to right wrongs and straighten out their lives.
Laurie “retired” from probation work in 1996, but realizing the importance of early intervention and wanting to inspire young people, she decided to become a teacher.
So in her forties, with her ever-present optimism, humor, and gusto, Laurie went back to college and took the training necessary to pursue her dream.
Laurie received her Education Teaching Certificate from Ferris State University in 2003 and in 2005 earned a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University.
Having successfully bridged the distance between the Court system and the public schools, Laurie spent the rest of her life teaching vocation and computer technology at Boyne Falls Public School, which she did masterfully until a week before her death
Laurie loved dogs, little kids, skiing, tug boats and barges, red roses, and going fast on snowmobiles. Above all, her passion and priorities were always centered upon people.
She is survived by her husband of 34 years, Tommy Howell, son Sgt. Nathan Howell of the Michigan Army National Guard, daughter Ruth Howell of Pierre, South Dakota, father and mother-in-law Jim and Glenna Howell of Boyne Falls, sisters; Leslie Cunningham (Ben) of Charlevoix, Susan Robertson of Lansing, Michigan, Beth Shepherd (Frank) of Charlevoix, nieces; Crissy Cunningham of Charlevoix, Kori Quinn (Anthony) of Forrest Hills, Michigan, nephews; Matt Cunningham (Jennifer), Michael Cunningham (Denise) of Charlevoix, Dr. Thomas Cunningham (Natoshia) of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jimmy Shepherd of West Hollywood, California, Luke Robertson of Lansing, Michigan, and Andrew Crandall (Emily) of Seattle, Washington. Laurie was a great aunt to Ray, Abby, Richie, Katie, Madie, Lukie, McMillan, Crandall, and Addison. She was predeceased by her parents and her sister-in-law Lana Crandall.
Memorial contributions may be made to Boyne Falls Public School, Laurie Howell Memorial Scholarship. Send c/o Karen Sherwood, Superintendent, Boyne Falls High School, PO Box 356, Boyne Falls, Michigan 49713.
Family and friends wishing to share a thought or memory of Laurie are encouraged to do so online at www.stonefuneralhomeinc.com.