Obituary of Wallace "Jack" John Howell
During their first conversation, Wallace John Howell Jr. and the woman who would become his wife bonded over their mutual love of jazz.
So Kathleen Howell played songs from Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" for Mr. Howell before he died in Buffalo General Medical Center of complications of pneumonia. The Elmwood Village West resident was 81.
Mr. Howell, known as "Jack" all his life, spent 25 years as a professor at Canisius College, where he helped create the college's communication studies major.
"He loved his students, and his students loved him," his wife said. After retiring in 2000, Mr. Howell continued to teach classes in world cinema and jazz appreciation.
While he was a student and a new instructor, Mr. Howell also produced and hosted jazz shows on several college stations. He also worked in television and radio in Rochester.
Mr. Howell and the former Kathleen Collins met in 1965 in a Rochester restaurant when she was studying for a master's degree at Rochester Institute of Technology. She and a female friend were about to leave after having dinner when her friend spotted two "cute guys" at the bar, she said. The women settled in for a drink and the two groups began to chat with them.
During the small talk, Mr. Howell asked his future wife what kind of music she liked. When she said jazz, which includes many styles, he asked what type.
Her reply, "I'm supposed to be home writing a humanities paper on John Coltrane right now!" assured him that their tastes were similar. "Our friendship went from there," she said, and they dated for a year and a half before marrying on Aug. 12, 1967, in Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse.
He ended up typing that paper for her – "He was a better typist than I was," his wife said – and she got an A.
Born in Elmira in 1940, Mr. Howell attended local schools before the family moved to Rochester in 1955, where his father was a high school principal.
Mr. Howell graduated from Penfield High School in 1958 and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from St. Lawrence University in Canton in 1962. In college, he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was active in the campus radio station, KSLU, where he was chief announcer and did a jazz show and play-by-play hockey over North Country Radio Network for two years. As a senior, Mr. Howell was inducted into A E Rho, the national honorary fraternity of broadcasting.
After graduation, Mr. Howell worked as a probation officer at the Monroe County Family Court, then enlisted in the Army in 1963. He served in Germany and was honorably discharged in 1965.
He earned a master's degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication in 1967.
Mr. Howell then worked for WROC-AM-FM-TV in Rochester as a weekend television anchor and weekday reporter for TV and radio.
In 1969, he returned to Syracuse University, completing his doctorate in philosophy in 1971.
Mr. Howell then joined the faculty at the University of Vermont, where he also managed the university radio station, WRUV-FM, and won a national journalism award as a freelance TV editor for Learning magazine.
At Canisius College, where he was hired in 1975, Mr. Howell taught a variety of courses in mass communication and an honors seminar in media culture, as well as classes in world cinema and jazz appreciation. He was chairman of the communication studies department from 1978 to 1982, and was faculty adviser to the campus film club and radio station in their formative years.
Mr. Howell wrote articles on minority language radio and television services in Wales, Ireland and Canada for academic journals. He wrote the 1986 textbook "World Broadcasting in the Age of the Satellite," and chapters in two other textbooks.
His love for jazz started when he was 9 when, with his parents' permission, he went by himself to an Oscar Peterson concert in Elmira, his wife said. Throughout his life, he made jazz compilations for friends from his extensive collection and other sources, she added.
He also had a lifelong interest in films, especially world cinema and classic movies. Mr. Howell also loved reading, country walking and travel, visiting 17 countries, 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces over the years.
In retirement, he and his wife, a former associate professor of art at the University at Buffalo and a children’s book illustrator, divided their time between Buffalo and Shropshire, England, where they owned a home since 1993.
Besides his wife, Kathleen Collins Howell, Mr. Howell is survived by a niece and a nephew.
Services will be private.
Wallace John “Jack” Howell, Jr., an educator and author who taught at Canisius College for 25 years and helped create its major in communication studies, died August 8, 2021 of complications from pneumonia. He was 81.
Dr. Howell taught a variety of courses in mass communications and a seminar in media culture for the college honors program, as well as interdisciplinary courses in cinema and jazz appreciation with the fine arts department. He also served as chairman of the communication studies department from 1978 to 1982, and was faculty advisor to the campus film club and radio station in their formative years.
Before coming to Canisius in 1975, Dr. Howell was in the faculty at the University of Vermont, where he also managed the university radio station, WRUV-FM, and won a national journalism award as a freelance TV Editor for Learning magazine.
Born in Elmira (NY) in 1940, he attended Hendy Avenue School and Elmira Free Academy before moving to Rochester in 1955. He graduated from Penfield (NY) High School in 1958 and attended St. Lawrence University in Canton (NY), receiving an AB degree in sociology. He was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was active in the campus radio station, KSLU, where he was chief announcer and did a jazz show and play by play hockey over the North Country Radio Network for two years. He was inducted into A E Rho, the national honorary fraternity of broadcasting, as a senior.
After graduating from college in 1962, Howell was a probation officer at the Monroe County Family Court, before being drafted into the Army, where he spent 16 months in Germany. After the service, he received a Masters degree at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication in 1967, and returned to Rochester to work as a weekend television anchorman and weekday reporter at WROC-AM-FM-TV.
In 1969, he went back to Syracuse University for graduate work in television and film, completing his doctor of philosophy degree in 1971. Dr. Howell also studied film history at the University of Rochester, did sabbatical research at Stanford and the British Film Institute, and was a media conference panelist at Penn and Rutgers.
During his tenure at Canisius College, Professor Howell authored a number of articles on minority language radio and television services in Wales, Ireland and Canada for academic journals, as well as a book on world broadcasting and chapters in two texts.
Howell was an avid jazz fan all his life, and hosted jazz programs on four radio stations in New York State and Vermont. His other lifelong interest was in classic and foreign films. He also loved reading, country walking, and travel. He visited 17 foreign countries, 48 states, and ten Canadian provinces over the years.
In retirement, he and his wife Kathleen, a former associate professor of art at SUNY-Buffalo and children’s book illustrator, divided their time between Buffalo and Shropshire, England, where they have owned a home since 1992.
Dr. Howell is survived by his wife of 54 years, Kathleen of Buffalo, a niece and nephew of Huntington Beach, CA. Services were held privately by the family. Please share condolences www.jerfh.com