Memorial for our Fallen Brother
Jeffrey W. Howell
September 19, 1961 - May 13, 2004
Sharon Springs Volunteer Fire Department Rank: Class A Firefighter Age at the time of death: 42
Jeff received “the calling” in the spring of 1994. As he drove through the country, he came upon a burning home, its owners desperately trying to salvage anything they could. The local volunteer fire department hadn’t yet made it to the scene, so the only thing he could do was help them save anything they could carry until the trucks arrived. He realized then first hand the need for more volunteers in a rural community, and joined Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department the next day.
After nearly 10 years of service to Carlisle, Jeff transferred to Sharon Springs department and continued unselfishly helping others until his untimely death. On May 13, 2004 he was one of the first to respond to a burning farmhouse. Much like his first experience, he began racing to help its inhabitants save what they could from their burning home. When the trucks began arriving a short time later, he helped with the hoses. He sat to rest, complaining he didn’t feel well (something he would never do) and died of a heart attack on the scene a short time later. Though his big heart stopped on that evening – the love and friendships it possessed will live on forever…
Jeff loved the fire department, and the bonds that formed from within. He was well loved and respected in both departments – taking his duty VERY seriously , and never turning down a request to help out. Nothing stopped him from responding to a call – even a close Miami Dolphins game (though he always made sure someone taped the end for him). He was passionate about the “brotherhood”, marching in local and state parades – including a long New York City march with thousands in the pouring rain – and loving every minute of it! In the end that same brotherhood came to honor and respect their fallen comrade – with full support from departments all around the State. Though the day is now a blur, the procession, memorials and services from all who unselfishly gave their time to participate and pay their respects for one of their own will never be forgotten.
Besides a fireman, Jeff was a skilled carpenter with a passion for woodwork. Though he had built many homes, his true gift was in custom finish work. He owned his own sawmill and woodworker’s shop, and was able to accomplish any challenge with true craftsman’s hands – starting with a tree, ending with the trim. One of his many hobbies was collecting crystals, minerals and gemstones. The combination of wood and stone allowed him and his wife Cindy to turn their home into an artist’s gallery of custom detail work.
His true joy in life was his wife Cindy and son Christopher. Married for almost 19 years, and together for 24 – Cindy is his partner, best friend and soul mate. Their young son Christopher was God’s gift to both of them, and Jeff’s “best pal”. Jeff’s business and Cindy’s unselfish devotion to her family and career allowed Jeff to care for Christopher for his first four and a half years – instilling virtue and a father’s bond to last him his lifetime.
Jeff had a true love of life – living every day to its fullest, and enjoying all things great and small. His good nature, sense of humor and infectious smile will live on in all who knew him. He will be sorely missed always by all of his family and friends and everyone he touched in his short lifetime.
On May 13, 2004 at 1718 hours, the Sharon Springs Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Gilberts Corners Road, Town Of Sharon. Firefighter Jeffrey W. Howell, age 42 collapsed at the scene. He was transported to Bassett Hospital of Schoharie County where he later died.
Howell had been an active member of the Sharon Springs Fire Department since November 2003 and had previously served with the Carlisle Fire Department since 1994.
Firefighter Howell was one of the first members to arrive on the scene. He was working outside of the burning structure and collapsed. An investigation of his death was conducted by Coroner Joseph Luz, local, state, and federal fire officials. Howell died from a myocardial infarction brought on by heat exhaustion.