Howard Wilson our Dad, Grays Harbor’s beloved Catholic Deacon, respected Hoquiam businessman, honored pioneer, artist, joyful life celebrant, died peacefully at 7:30 am Tuesday May 2. His extraordinary caregiver and friend, Mary-Ann Tully, said he died a “gentle man” to the end.
Howard was born in Hoquiam at home on August 6th 1921 to Ruth and Howard Wilson Sr. After his parents separated, he lived with paternal grandparents, a stepmother, and two stepsisters, all “exceedingly kind to me.” When he was 11, his father died unexpectedly and Howard lived with grandmothers and his mother in California for a time. When 13, he returned to Hoquiam to live permanently with his aunt and uncle, Harry and Ada Wilson. At 14, Howard fell in love at first sight with his sweetie, Betty De Haven, and she with him, the beginning of a 73 year love affair. After graduating, attending WSU for two years and a six year impatient courtship, Howard married Betty at Our Lady of Good Help Parish Hoquiam, Dec. 27, 1941.
After Howard’s release from the Army, he and Betty raised three children, son Tom, daughters Jean and Betsy. Always “glued together,” they worked as a team at the family business, Quimby and Wilson Colonial Maple Shop. Howard and Betty loved camping; often taking their family on wonderful vacations pulling their home made trailer, the famous “Dumbo.” Later camping trips included grandkids and excursions with the Elk’s RV Club. Their travels also took them to Hawaii and Europe. They also created marvelous art together. He painted the ships; she the sea, sky, and landscapes. Their work won awards and sold countywide. Some appeared in the Polson Museum and various gift shops.
Both remained active in the community and their church. Howard was “always present to the Lord,” even as a child. In 1982 after four years of study, he was ordained a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. A kind steady servant, wonderful in hospital ministry, Howard delightfully described his duties as one who could “marry, bury, match, hatch and dispatch.” His trust in Jesus, great patience, long service and boundless love for Betty, defined a good holy man. We will miss him greatly.
Howard was predeceased by his step brother, Guy Wilson, and sister, Betty. He is survived by his son, Tom (Taffi); daughter, Jean Dolby (Tim); and daughter Betsy House (Jim); five grandchildren, six great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of his life and Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Good Help in Hoquiam, Saturday, May 17, at noon. Reception following. Remembrances can be made to Catholic Community Services, 306 E. 3rd Street, Aberdeen, WA 98520 or the Polson Museum, 1611Riverside Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550.