Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Shelli 'Russ' Howell, 70

| October 18, 2020 12:00 AM

Shelli "Russ" Howell passed away at his home in Columbia Falls on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

He was born on Dec. 2, 1949. in Glendale, California. to Robert and Helen (Nordgren) Toole Howell.

Russ graduated from Cupertino High School in 1968. He joined the Navy in 1970 and was an electronics technician aboard the submarines USS Blueback and the USS Fort Fisher. During his time in the Navy he began flight lessons and eventually obtained his commercial pilot license. He was discharged from the Navy in December of 1976.

Russ was married briefly and son Rusty was born in December of 1981 in Simi Valley, California. At about this time Russ started work with GM. He left that job in August of 1990 and he and Rusty moved to Montana.

Russ attended Flathead Valley Community College and received an Associate of Science degree in May of 1997. While attending FVCC and later at Montana State University, he enjoyed tutoring other students. He was close to finishing a degree at MSU when he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak for nearly a year.

Therapy allowed him to recover sufficiently to buy a home in Columbia Falls in 1998. With the help of his son he restored it and added a large shop/garage. When Rusty was killed in an automobile accident in 2003, Russ struggled with the loss of his son and friend.

Russ underwent a stem cell transplant as treatment for multiple myeloma in Seattle in 2014. The treatment could not be done without a full-time caregiver, and his sister Betty filled that role for four and a half months.

Russ had many health problems the last several years of his life. His friends, Ann Blethen and Dave Yeats, helped him through as best they could. He was also aided by special caregivers from Epaga Home Care, Frontier Hospice, Norco and Rotech. Even though Russ was often unable to express his appreciation, he truly felt gratitude for all who helped him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his son Rusty, and his brother Ray Toole.

Survivors include his sisters, Betty Turner, Barbara Nelson and Linda Upton, and brother, Richard Toole.

Graveside services for Russ with military honors will be held at Woodlawn Cemetery in Columbia Falls on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m. Attendees will practice social distancing and masks are highly recommended.

Columbia Mortuary in Columbia falls is caring for Russ’s family.