BERTHA MAE COLLIER HOWELL
April 1, 1933- November 3, 2017
Bertha Mae Collier made her entrance into this world at her parent's home outside Nowata, Oklahoma on April 1, 1933. She was the first of five children born to Charlie and Lela (Pierce) Collier and grew up with three sisters. Life was never boring with this group of girls. She started school at the early age of five and never stopped learning and sharing. She was on her way to a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas, and graduating Valedictorian of Lincoln High School in Arkansas at 15, when her family moved to Grandfalls, Texas.
Things weren't so cut and dry here, as she had already completed the required subjects to graduate in Grandfalls, so she began to teach typing classes and working in the school office until the summer of 1949.
She met the love of her life, Donald Howell, and they were married September 9, 1951 at her mom and dad's house on the Jones Lease outside of Grandfalls-Royalty, Texas. The shoes and tin can streamers they cut off their car could be found many years later exactly where they were left as they started the honeymoon and adventures of the next 56 years.
Her life with him was full of opportunities and she was able to take on any job she choose, settling down as legal secretary for Holt Magee and R.B. Magowen in Monahans for several years.
She joined the Order of the Eastern Star in 1951and was a member for 66 years holding Worthy Matron many times in Texas and New Mexico, and the Daughters of the Nile in Albuerquerque, NM in 1981.
In 1969, after 10 years with El Paso Natural Gas, the family of five now started the trek of transfers and moves to several different areas as Don was promoted within the company.
She went back to school and graduated with a Bachelor of Science, minors in Math and English from West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas in 1972 after just 2 ½ years of condensed studies. She began teaching social studies and history to seventh and eighth graders in Springlake-Earth Junior High and became a favorite teacher and friend to many of her students One student said she loved Mrs. Howell because "she made a kid feel like you could achieve anything the mind was set to with confidence".
Their adventures took them to Kermit where she taught Junior High until Don accepted the position with EPLNG in Bethioua, Algeria, North Africa. She became a local favorite and was often seen chatting away and teaching the other Company ladies and residents in town. When they had to leave to return to the US, the local police chief broke the Algerian flag off of the post office and presented it to her as a remembrance of their friendship.
She and Don returned to Grandfalls upon his retirement and set up beekeeping and nuisance bee removal for 11 counties. They were known to have up to 200 boxes of bees and sold their 8 different flavor a honey under the name of Calloused Palms pure honey in high demand to the area health food stores and residents, and often donated to the pancake supper fundraisers for the different organizations.
She and Don also co-worked the chairman position of Ward County Republicans for the next twenty plus years going to Austin promoting those values and resolutions they believed in.
Their favorite project was "Reclaim the Zimmerman Dam" just outside of Grandfalls on the Pecos River. They spent many hours teaching the economic and ecological benefits of restoring the old river to its prime uses.
She contracted Myleodysplastic Syndrome, a type of bone marrow failure, in 2016 and found out quickly there wasn't much research available, but she took the suggested treatments over the course of the next 19 months, often teaching the health care providers about this disease. Again, she became the sweetheart of the infusion center and the oncology ward, always with a smile. She was teaching civics and history to many of the younger nurses and techs, and was always available to answer questions on almost every subject they asked on.
Bertha Mae left this world on November 3, 2017 almost exactly 10 years after her love Donald had passed on November 26, 2007. The nurses in the oncology floor came by to give her kisses of farewell and hugs to the family.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Lela Collier, a brother, Orville Donald Collier, her son-in-law Donald Keith, daughter-in-law Sue Howell, and grandson Donald Howell II.
She is survived by a son Roger Howell, his wife Elizabeth, and grandson Christopher; a daughter Karen Keith, her granddaughter Kristin and great grandson Levi, grandson Daniel his wife Lacey and great granddaughters Rylee and Colbie; daughter Lyn Ivey, granddaughter Chelsea and her husband Cameron, granddaughter Shelby and her husband Shannon; sisters JoAnn Matthews and family, Jenna Lee King and family, Patsy Lou Cox and family, sister-in-law Juanda Howell, numberous cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Her extended family was one of her most precious treasures and the family would like to thank the special care she received at Texas Oncology Allison Cancer Center in Midland, the outpatient unit at Midland Memorial Hospital and the incredible nurses of the 7th floor Oncology unit at Midland Memorial Hospital, Dr Manget and his staff, Hospice of Midland, and Harkey Family Services.
She loved hummingbirds and roses, but instead of flowers, she would ask you to remember the MDS Foundation, Shriner's for Kids, and the Scottish Rite Dyslexic Program for Educators and Kids to continue her selfless legacy by donating to the charity of your choice in her honor.