Mike V. Howett

Michael V. Howett, 95, of Zavala County, passed away Oct. 18, 2013 in Uvalde. Mike Howett lived his entire life on the same ranch he was born on in 1918, apart from college, an early job, and a decade of military and international service. His family first settled on the ranch in the 1880s. Shaped by a life of hard work, discipline, and hardship, Mike’s integrity and goodness have reached far beyond the barbed wire boundaries of the land that was so much a part of him. He was born to Elizabeth (Carmichael) Howett on July 12, 1918, three months after his father, Roy Howett, was killed in World War I. As an only child, Mike was surrounded by his hard-working grandparents, mother, and aunts who encouraged him to read at an early age. Ranch life taught him many things over the years, but he never quite learned to complain. He learned instead to always look for the best in every situation and every person. Many credit their success to Mr. Howett’s kind heart and steadfast belief in them. His generosity and caring attitude was demonstrated through his unselfish provision for his friends, Francene and Doug Priest and Francene’s children. “Mike was an intelligent, humble, gentle man who believed each of us should put our best foot forward in helping others,” longtime friend Gary Jones said. “He was polite to the highest degree and never criticized or elaborated on the negative traits of anyone. He believed everyone has positive things about them and he always chose to emphasize the positive.” As a lifelong learner and teacher, education was important to Mike. In 1935, he was valedictorian of his graduation class. He went on to earn three degrees from what is now Texas A&M University in Kingsville: a BA and MA in math and physics and a BS in electrical engineering. His coursework included credits from Shanghai University in China and the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, from his military days. Mike never approached obligation lightly, and every time he had a chance to do something, he took it. He joined the Enlisted Reserve early and on Dec. 7, 1941, life changed instantly for him as it did for much of the world. He was called into active duty and was channeled into the Air Force. In 1942, he was assigned as a First Turret Machine Gunner on a B-24 bomber. During his training and missions, he flew to Recife, Brazil, the Canary Islands, Libya, Italy and India. During an anti-aircraft defense effort on the eastern Mediterranean shore, Mike took a hit from enemy fire. Receiving multiple injuries to his head, face, and right arm, plus serious injuries to his torso and lower legs, Mike battled for his life as he lay unconscious for three weeks. By the grace of God, and against all odds, Mike survived. He went on to serve until after V-J day when Japan surrendered. Upon his discharge from the military, as communism and turmoil advanced in China, Mike worked for the Chinese National Airways transporting individuals from China to safety. Mike always believed he was spared for a reason after almost dying during WWII. He chose not to marry. Instead, he devoted his life to managing his ranching business and working to make life better for children and young people. He served as an instructor at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde where for 24 years, he taught, guided and influenced young lives. As an educator, he made it a point to teach his students the most he could and was always willing to spend extra time to help each one achieve their goals. Mike Howett was also active within his community. His generosity provided First Baptist Church of Batesville with a fellowship hall that has served them well for many years. He received the Texas Farm Bureau Pioneer Award in 2007 in honor of his exceptional service in farming, ranching and agriculture. Upon his retirement, he was recognized by the Texas Farm Bureau Association for his 53 years of leadership and dedication to the organization. Mike was also a member and service officer of the American Legion Post 26 for many years. He was the last surviving member of an ad-hoc B-24 Liberator Aircrew group that served during World War II. One of Mike’s great loves was his relationship with South Texas Children’s Home Ministries. He visited the Boothe Campus north of Beeville in 1954, just two years after the Children’s Home opened, and he liked what he saw. He became even more involved after attending a Kattle for Kids sale of Beefmaster cattle in 1980 on the campus. His support and lifetime commitment to South Texas Children’s Home Ministries has helped the organization grow into a strong, vibrant ministry. “Mike never acquired a taste for expensive things,” Jones said. “By choice, he lived in the modest four-room home of his birth, with no air conditioning, throughout his whole life on the ranch. He was determined to manage his assets and save his money to help the children of South Texas Children’s Home Ministries and others, and he has dedicated a lifetime to doing just that.” Those who loved Mike would like to thank the staff of Amistad Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility, Dooley Cardona, Dr. Isaac Sosa and Dr. Sameta Sosa. Funeral services were held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 at Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary. Interment followed at Loma Vista Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers were the past and current staff of Southwest Texas Junior College. Mike Howett will always be remembered for his kind heart and caring generosity. He remained steadfast and true to what he believed God’s purpose was for him. In death he will continue to change young lives just as he did in life, so they too can make a difference in this world … in their own unique way. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to South Texas Children’s Home, P.O. Box 1210, Beeville, Texas, 78104 (361-375-2417); and Southwest Texas Junior College, Attn. Nita Reed, 2401 Garner Field Road, Uvalde, Texas 78801 (830-591-7282). THE PRECEDING IS A PAID OBITUARY.
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