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Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes

1730 East Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI

OBITUARY

Gordon Stanley Howell Jr.

March 7, 1941August 13, 2018

On August 13, 2018, Stan Howell (Dr. Gordon Stanley Howell, Jr.) returned to the earth the elements he had borrowed for a short period of time beginning on March 7, 1941. He was a child of the rural South, Semmes, AL, and his experiences and cultural influences flowed from that reality. He was fortunate to have parents, Gordon, Sr. and Marian Savell Howell who, while being children of the Great Depression and possessing little formal education themselves, valued education and their encouragement led to high school graduation Semmes High School, Mississippi State University, B.S., M.S. and University of Minnesota, PhD. Stan loved plants and took his degree in Horticulture. There he found delight in the applied plant based biological sciences and that fascination held for the remainder of his life. Fortunately, that education complimented his desire to excel and to build upon and maintain a strong work ethic gained from his building trades antecedents. Stan's adult life was most significantly influenced by his good fortune in the choice of a spouse (if he was really the one doing the choosing) in Nancy Parker of Vicksburg, MS. Nancy and their three children, Joshua, Adam, and Shannon made their home in mid-Michigan where Stan was hired as an Assistant Professor of Horticulture in 1969 at Michigan State University and progressed through the academic ranks to Professor in 1980 and Professor of Viticulture Emeritus at his retirement in 2006. Stan felt a special bond with his Alabama brothers Brenson and Patrick and regretted that he could not visit with them personally more often. Stan found enjoyment in the science and economics of grapevines, good wine and the company of good people. He liked to laugh and did laugh a lot. He also enjoyed making others laugh and was well known as a master story teller. He loved the philosophies of science and felt that science was less a career choice or area of inquiry and more a manner of thinking and acting upon those thoughts. He did not believe that one had to be boring in order to be serious. He had a strong sense of personal honesty and honor. He wrote a quotation that may have been original, or borrowed, but the content was the point. "Honesty is defined as actions one takes when no one else can see; Honor is the expression of that honesty where everyone can see." He was especially satisfied with his friends, and there were many. A major joy of his professional life was his relationship with students who came through his mentorship and progressed to positions of responsibility in science and industry. He was involved with the development of the quality wine industry in Michigan. He strongly believed that growth must flow from scientifically critically produced data and his research and outreach was said to be valuable. His efforts were valued and he presented invited research findings in Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Stan is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nancy, sons, Joshua, Adam (Elaine), daughter Shannon Hibser (Jeff) and one grandson Sam Howell who was a special delight to Stan. He is also survived by brothers Brenson (Diane), Patrick (Elaine). An open house celebration of Stan's life will be held Saturday, August 25 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Eagle Eye Golf Club and Banquet Center, East Lansing with a memorial at 3 p.m.

Services

  • Celebration of Life Saturday, August 25, 2018
  • Memorial Saturday, August 25, 2018

Memories

Gordon Stanley Howell Jr.

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Beth Engle

October 6, 2019

I met Dr. Howell as an adult student starting in the Horticulture program at M.S.U, along with a number of other adult students nearly 25+ years ago. We formed a new group of adult Hort. students and one of the first activities we did was hold a wine tasting event in the Hort. dept. atrium. Dr. Howell, of course, supplied the wine. He was so down to earth, and of course, while we were adults, we were also out of our depth a bit in this new environment, sourrounded by a lot of professors we didn't know, and didn't want to make a misstep with. Dr. Howell put us at our ease though, by telling us that if there was a wine that we didn't like, to 'just pour it down the atrium drains' and get another. That helped 'seal the deal' that we were in the right place at M.S.U.!

Dave Miller

August 22, 2018

I met Stan in 1983 when I came to MSU to work on my MS in Viticulture with him. I learned a lot from Stan and we had many great experiences together in the years I worked with him at MSU and then after, when I took a position in the Michigan wine industry. I will miss my old mentor / colleague and most of all, friend. His legacy will continue through the work of his many students.