James Howell, 69, of Spindale, North Carolina, peacefully passed away in his home on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. after an incredibly brave battle with pancreatic cancer. His devoted partner Michelle and beloved dogs were by his side.
James was born in Alexandria, Virginia on January 28, 1949, and was raised in Virginia and New York City. He also lived in Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and finally North Carolina. An offset printer by trade, Mr. Howell, an entrepreneur with a powerful presence and engaging personality, owned printing companies, including Signature Inc., automobile dealerships and nightclubs in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
Mr. Howell was a deeply spiritual man who lived his life by faith. He recently worshipped at True Word Baptist Church of Forest City, North Carolina, where he sang in the choir. James had natural musical ability - composing his own gospel and popular songs such as, I’ve Had my Share (of Life’s Ups and Downs) which found its way into the first line of Gladys Night’s song, The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me. James played numerous musical instruments. James’ inspirational testimonies and heartfelt singing inspired church congregations, at-risk youth, and those who suffer from addiction in NC, MD, D.C., and MA.
James was a talented self-taught artist whose realistic drawings and paintings would take your breath away. His talent was such that as a young child, he was invited to draw animated figures for Twentieth Century Fox. Additionally, James had a natural ability for writing humorous and touching poetry and narratives based on his own life’s joys and struggles.
James, a handsome man with Cherokee heritage, had a flair for style as well as a love of classic cars – owning many ’56 Chevrolets over the years. He was a gifted boxer – sparring with many noted athletes, including George Foreman.
James, a gentle soul and generous spirit, would help anyone in need; he saw the good in people and beauty in life. His wisdom, kindness, charm, intuitiveness, amazing strength, and great sense of humor inspired others and brought them joy.
James is survived by his 25 year partner Michelle Boudreau of Spindale, North Carolina, children including Kendra Ann Rojas from Bridgeport, Connecticut, grandchildren including Marcela Rojas, sister Louvinia Francis (Lou) of Troy, New York, sister Gloria (Jalilah) Tucker-Acker of Greenville, South Carolina, brother Gerald Howell of Bronx, New York, sister Audrey Digges of Woodbridge, Virginia, numerous nieces and nephews including Tina Harris of Fort Washington, Virginia, cousins, and extended family in Virginia and New York. He is predeceased by mother Edith Howell of Virginia, brother Thomas (Bucky), Howell of New York, and sister Rosina (Dina) Howell of Virginia.
Visitation will be held on Friday, February 9 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Acton Funeral Home 470 Massachusetts Ave. (Rte 111) Acton, MA. Funeral service on Saturday, February 10 at 10:00 a.m. at West Concord Union Church, 1317 Main St., Concord, MA with burial following at St. Bridget Cemetery on Great Road and Old Mill Road in Maynard, MA.
Donations can be sent to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Hospice of the Carolinas and United Way of Rutherford County, NC, and pit bull and rescue dog organizations. Memorial page www.actonfuneralhome.com
“I’m going home with Jesus to that cloud on high.”