In Memory

Ralph Howell

Ralph L. Howell(1950 - 2019)
April 9,1950 - March 30, 2019
Ralph L. Howell, age 68, died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 30, 2019 of a heart attack. Ralph was born on April 9, 1950 in Mittenwald, Germany to Jack C. Howell and Irmengard Stein Howell who preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his younger brother John Howell and his in-laws R.V. and Doris Spears. Because his father was in the U.S. Army Ralph lived in a variety of places growing up, including Virginia, France, Michigan, and California. After his father retired the family moved to Sherman, Texas where he graduated from high school in 1968. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 with a in chemistry and education. After graduation he taught science in the Austin Independent School District. He married Mary Ann Spears on December 18, 1976.
Ralph had an interest in photography from the time he was in middle school. In 1985 he and Mary Ann moved to San Antonio so that he could pursue a degree in fine art at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He received his MFA from UTSA in 1996. Ralph was a gifted teacher and taught for over 40 years. He retired in 2017 after teaching fine art photography and digital media at Saint Mary's Hall School for 31 years. During his tenure he inspired hundreds of students to express their creativity through photography. He cared about his students as individuals and was dedicated to bringing out the best in them. He was recognized as a Master Teacher at Saint Mary's Hall in 2002 and received the Jamie Armstrong Bennett Award in 2017. In addition to being a teacher Ralph was an artist photographer with a special interest in pinhole photography. His work was exhibited in New York City, San Francisco and San Antonio. He received SMH summer grants to study in Italy, England and Rockport, Maine. His pinhole work was featured on the PBS production EGG the Art Show and on Texas Country Reporter.
In addition to his family and friends Ralph loved Italy, the Beatles, cats, fly fishing, Hawaiian shirts, gadgets, poetry, the San Antonio Spurs and cooking, not necessarily in that order. He was a kind, sensitive, compassionate and just human being and he will be deeply missed. He is survived by his wife of 42 years Mary Ann Spears-Howell and by his sister-in-law Carolyn Wilkinson (Bob Johnson) of Kerrville, Tx, and brother-in-law Robert A. Spears (Susan) of Midland, Tx. Other survivors include nieces Suzanne Wilkinson (Thimothy Penn) and Shannon Eugene (Sean) of San Antonio, Sabra Fuller(Chuck) and Sara Spears of Austin, Emily Nelson(Danny) of Frisco, Tx, and nephew Reese Spears of Lafayette, Colorado. He is also survived by two great nieces, two great nephews and two great, great nieces. Left to cherish his memory as well are special friends Diane and Wendall Fuqua, Peter Hugill and Judy Warren, Bethany and Lloyd Potter, Georgie and Patrick Cunningham, Gina Trevino, Debbie Pruski, Oscar Camacho and Bill Davis as well as neighbors, friends and former students.
We are grateful for the kindness and sensitivity of the EMS technicians and police officers who responded to the emergency call. Ralph wished to be cremated and a memorial service will be held at Saint Mary's Hall on Monday, May 27, 2019 at 11:00am in the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel. A retrospective of Ralph's photography will be held in the SMH Theater/Chapel galleries from May 20-August 8, 2019. Anyone wishing to make donations in Ralph's memory made do so to ChildSafe, the San Antonio Humane Society, Saint Mary's Hall (Saint Mary's Hall, 9401 Starcrest, San Antonio, Texas 78217) or a charity of your choice.

He was my North, my South, my East, and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest.
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
W. H. Auden
(Stop All the Clocks)

Published in Express-News on Apr. 7, 2019