Deborah "Debbie" Barba Howell

July 18, 1960March 18, 2021

Passed away peacefully in her home on Thursday, March 18, 2021, surrounded by her loving husband and children after gallantly battling cancer for over five years.

Debbie, a native San Diegan, was born at Mercy Hospital on July 18,1960, and grew up in Mission Hills. She was the daughter of Dr. Manuel Barba and Patricia Barba, and one of eight children.

Along with her seven siblings, she attended St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School and University of San Diego High School (Uni). It was in her junior year at Uni where she met her high school sweetheart and future husband, Carl Howell.

She attended Stanford University along with her older brother, Denis, where she graduated in 1983 with a degree in Mathematical Sciences, and was one of the only women in her major. After graduation, Debbie returned home to San Diego, where she lived in Mission Beach and worked for a defense contractor.

Debbie and Carl married in 1985 at The Immaculata Catholic Church, across the street from where they met at Uni. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where their first two children, Tricia and Edwin, were born. While Carl worked at Frazee Paint, Debbie taught software classes before becoming a full-time mother to Tricia and Ed.

After nearly 10 years in Phoenix, the family moved back to San Diego to their home in Bankers Hill. The family of four turned into a family of six with the additions of Denis and Tito, both born at Mercy Hospital like their mom and dad.

Debbie’s life revolved around her family, home, and faith. She was her children’s biggest fan, waving her pom-poms at countless sporting events, graduations, and plays. An avid windsurfer and body boarder, she loved beach days with her family where she was the first one in and last one out of the water. Debbie enjoyed making fantastic Halloween costumes for her children and her grandchildren and loved hosting holiday parties for her family and friends. She loved to paint, travel, camp, bike Fiesta Island with Carl, and relished family trips to the Sierras, snowshoeing, skiing, and hiking. Debbie would close down a bar with her children and be at daily mass the very next day with her husband.

Debbie will be sorely missed by her loving husband of 36 years, Carl; four children, Tricia (Bill) Walsh, Edwin (Alexa), Denis (Jenny) Howell-Stiles and Tito; five grandchildren, Carl, Tom, twins Shane and Kelly, and Quinn; seven siblings; eleven nieces and nephews; seven grand nieces and nephews; three sisters-in-law; one brother-in-law; and many life-long friends.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated April 17, 2021 at 10:00am at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Mission Hills (4080 Hawk St., San Diego CA 92103). Preceded with the Rosary at 9:30am. The service will be live streamed on St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church’s YouTube site.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to please consider a donation in support of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Mission Hills.


  • Rosary

    Saturday, April 17, 2021

  • Mass of Chrisitian Burial

    Saturday, April 17, 2021


Deborah "Debbie" Barba Howell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Betty Tuyay

April 18, 2021

As we were in San Francisco , we were grateful to view Debbie’s memorial services online . The mass was indeed beautiful . The music was soothing to our sad spirits. Father Alex was personable as your family pastor. Ed , we admire your strength to talk and share your memories of your beloved mom. Good job! Our condolences to Carl , Trish , Ed , Denis , Tito and the entire family. Your loving Angel looks down from Heaven and keeping watch over you for sure! Love to you all.❤️

Geetha Yeruva

April 15, 2021

I met Debbie and Carl in 2003. Ever since we have been great friends. My husband Tom and myself have come to San Diego each summer to share about our mission work and Debbie and Carl have been very supportive of us. Debbie made sure that she invited us to their home on each visit and hosted a few times. We never wanted to miss our visits and enriching conversations. Debbie was a very loving and faith filled person. Always full of joy. Our condolences to all the family members. May She Rest In Peace. We will certainly miss her but sure she will implore for all of us from heaven.
Dr. Geetha and Tom Chitta

Lisa Busalacchi

April 7, 2021

I was so sad yesterday to hear about Debbies passing. We spent many years together at St. Vincent’s, Uni High, and Presidio Little League. While we were never close friends, Her warmth and loving spirit came out every time she was nearby. She and Carl raised a beautiful family who I know she will watch over forever. Heaven has absolutely gotten a beautifuj

Grace McGovern

March 30, 2021

The McGovern family is truly saddened to learn about Debbie. It was during our time as fellow Uni parents we were introduced to sweet Deb and Carl and their beautiful life story and equally beautiful family. Our love and prayers are with you all as the story continues with her bright heavenly blessing.

Beth Callender

March 29, 2021

Debbie and the Howell family have been a steady and joyful presence in our Banker’s Hill neighborhood since Pete and I moved here 24 years ago. On moving day Debbie arrived with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a friendship was born. We loved to hear the football being thrown in the street, seeing Debbie’s elaborate Halloween display and costumes, and to socialize during Friday night potlucks. Debbie was a positive and warm person, neighbor, friend, mother, and grandmother. She will be missed.

David Hauck

March 27, 2021

I first met Debbie in first grade at St Vincent de Paul school. We were for those eight years the tallest in our class. Deb was the very bright straight A student and I the class clown beaten by nuns daily. We attended Uni High but again were on different paths so we didn't hang out. Meeting Carl changed her life forever. If ever two people were meant to be together this was it. I'm so proud to call them my friends! I loved seeing them and the kids at Sunday mass at St Vinnie's. Debbie you were and always will be the salt of the earth. Carl I love you brother, and you are absolutely cut from the same cloth. Debbie you are in the arms of our Lord now. I know you will be smiling down upon your beautiful family with as much love as this world has ever seen. God Bless you, and God Bless the entire Howell family.

Betty Tuyay

March 27, 2021

Heaven has truly welcomed a good & faithful Angel in Debbie . “ The law of kindness was her following. ‘’ Her warm personality was a joy! Equally impressive was how smart she was . We witnessed her solving a Sudoku puzzle in seconds flat . Chris fondly recalls Debbie coaching the St Vincent’s math team to victorious levels. “Strength and honor was her clothing. Her children rise up and call her blessed” We loved all the years of volleyball, outrigger and beach camping together. Carl , your true love and devotion was reflected in Deb’s smiles and laughter. Our beautiful Angel had gone ahead to make a heavenly path and until then we will certainly miss her. Love to all , Felix & Betty Tuyay Family


March 27, 2021

It was great to meet Debbie what a wonderful person she was!Also what a great family she has my prayers are with them always!!
Love Ann

Tonya Brubaker

March 26, 2021

I am so sorry for your loss! I only knew Mrs. Howell for a short time, but if she was anything like her daughter, Trish, she was a beautiful person! Trish and I go back several years when she was a new nurse. Trish, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

My deepest condolences,
Tonya Brubaker

Peggy Keller

March 26, 2021

It was most sincere honor and privilege to visit and pray with Debbie while I was visiting San Diego in March. We had met 3 years ago through my daughter in law Annie Keller. It was a joy to get reacquainted.
I am so sorry for your loss. Our faith supports our hope. May it bring you some small measure of comfort to know that “God does not take our loved ones, He receives them.”
Debbie and all of you will be remembered in my prayers.
In Christ, Peggy Keller