Howard (Howie) James Wells, 73, passed away at his home in Cambridge, VT on Friday, June 12, 2020 surrounded by family and friends after a courageous battle with cancer. He was born on February 19, 1947 in Cambridge.
Howard grew up in Cambridge where he attended Cambridge Elementary and High School. He graduated in 1967and many of the people he met in school remained close friends throughout his life. He went on to join United States Army in 1968 where he served his country until 1970.
Living in Cambridge his entire life, Howard loved the Lamoille Valley and spent his time enjoying the many, splendid outdoor opportunities available to him. Howard loved to hunt deer every year. He also enjoyed playing baseball and golf. Howard was an avid baseball card collector and in his later years, he would often be found in Bakersfield enjoying a round of golf with friends.
Howard worked for Mountain Operations at Smuggler’s Notch Resort for the duration of his adult life. He started working on the mountain in 1970. He was a jack of all trades and understood the inner workings of mountain ops like no one else. There was no job, big or small, that Howard couldn’t or wouldn’t tackle. He was at ease working to ensure that the lifts were running safely and smoothly and could just as easily find joy loading visitors on the chair lifts. Even on subzero degree days, he could be found bundled up with a smile on his face enjoying the natural beauty of the place he called home. He retired after 49 years of service in 2019.
Howard met his love, Patricia (Patty) Lipka, later in life. They were married when he was 48 in 1995. On April 14, 2020, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. In all the years they were married, he never willingly took of his wedding ring. He only removed it when it no longer fit him near the end of his life and doing so brought tears to his eyes. He was a loving husband and stepfather. He loved Patty and her son, Michael Lipka, whole heartedly. He did all he could to make their lives joyous and fun-filled. He and Patty often took trips to the casino to try their luck all the while knowing that they were luckiest to have found each other.
One of the greatest joys of Howard’s life was the experience of being a grandparent to his grandson, Michael Howard Hutchins. “Little Michael” was born in May of 2010 and for the last decade, Howard was able to enjoy his grandson’s overnight visits every couple of weeks and all the little adventures they had together. Howard was Papa and he took that role very seriously and loved Little Michael deeply.
In addition to Patty, Michael and Little Michael, Howard is survived by his sister, Barbara Lafountain, and her husband, Myron, of Jeffersonville, VT as well as his sister, Linda Gingras, of Barre. Linda is predeceased by her husband, Richard. Howard is predeceased by his parents, Cecil and Josephine Wells and his sister, Shirley Westman and her husband, Richard, all of whom were from Cambridge.
Howard was fortunate to expand his family through his marriage to Patty. He is survived by Patty’s sisters and their partners, Donna and Frank Hutchins of Cambridge, Brenda and Tim Shea of Burlington, VT and Mary Skog and Larry Williamson of Jeffersonville. Howard was a great man and loved all of his family, especially his many nephews and nieces.
At this time, there will be no service as the family wishes to have Howard’s relatives and friends gather when it is safe to do so after the COVID 19 crisis subsides. If anyone wishes to honor Howard’s memory, you can do so through a donation to the Lamoille Cancer Society or Lamoille Valley Health and Hospice. Both agencies provided tremendous support to Howard and Patty during a very difficult time.
Patty wishes to thank all of you who have kept Howard in your thoughts and prayers and to extend a special thanks to all of those who have shown kindness and support prior to and since Howard’s death.
The family invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting www.awrfh.com.