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Ralph Howell

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Ralph C. Howell, age 85, of Willmar, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday evening, July 20, at his residence.

A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 31, at the Calvary Lutheran Church Chapel in Willmar. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment with military honors will be at Cloverleaf Memorial Park Cemetery. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home. www.petersonbrothers.com

Ralph was born on December 13, 1935, in Willmar, Minnesota, the son of Jennice and Myrtle (Swenson) Howell. He grew up in Willmar and graduated from Willmar High School in 1954. He served in the U.S. Army as a MP and was a member of the 5th Army Pistol Team while stationed in Chicago. While in the service, Ralph met the love of his life, Kathryn Rose Freitag. They were united in marriage on August 23, 1957 in Enderlin, North Dakota and made their home in Chicago. After his service, they moved to Moorhead and Ralph attended college. In 1958, they moved to Willmar. Ralph was employed by Burlington Northern Railroad for over 50 years, retiring in 1997 as Yard Master in Willmar. He was the last of the Howell family who have worked on the railroad for over 100 years. Ralph enjoyed being active in sports during his younger years. He was proud to have played in the Minnesota State Basketball Tournament in 1954 with the Willmar Cardinal’s. Ralph was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church, Elk’s Lodge, Eagle’s Club and the V.F.W. Post. He was the local chairman for the United Transportation Union (UTU), a past president of the Willmar Sportsman Club and a volunteer Loon counter for the Minnesota DNR. His hobbies included hunting, fishing and being creative with crafts and woodworking.

He is survived by his loving wife, Kathy of Willmar; two children, Guy (and Jeanne) Howell of Rochester and Jodie (and Reza) Nassirzadeh of Henderson, NV., and six grandchildren, Kelly, Jack, Natalie & Megan Howell and Alec & Myah Nassirzadeh, besides other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Donald and Terrance Howell.

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