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Nat Lee Howell, Jr., age 88, of Burnsville, entered into his heavenly home Thursday morning, December 27th, following a period of declining health. He was the son of Nat Lee Howell, Sr. and Hattie Harrell Howell.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Eva Lee Tipton Howell of the home, and by his children: Joe Lee Howell (Jo), Mary Ann Higgins (Mike), of Burnsville and David Howell (Carolyn) of Bald Creek.
Also left to honor his memory are grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Darren Higgins and wife, Penny, (Tate, Aiden, Mari, Brant and Cooper) of Maryville, TN, Leigh Howell and wife, Melissa, of Asheville, Joel Howell and wife, Brie, of New York, Eliot Howell of Burnsville, Julie Drummonds and husband, David (Jamie and Ben) of Burnsville and Seth Higgins of Asheville; nephew, Ken Deyton of Burnsville and a cousin, Don Harrell and wife, Linda, of Mars Hill.
Nat was a master blacksmith and wrought iron worker who designed and created many beautiful, unique pieces, one of which is in the Smithsonian Museum.
More than 25 years ago he was also instrumental in assisting in the founding of the Tri-County Pregnancy Center, providing the building and office space, and continued to be supportive in many ways of the work that continues there still today, not just for mothers and babies, but also parenting classes, men's meetings, and community involvement from the Tri-County area. In lieu of flowers or food, donations may be made to Tri-County Pregnancy Center at PO Box 125, Burnsville, NC 28714 or to West Burnsville Baptist Church.
A great joy of his life was participating in Christian mission work, both in the United States and numerous foreign counties, using his skills in construction, metal work, welding, and well drilling to provide life-saving services for the people in those areas, while providing a living example of Jesus' instruction to "go ye into all the world." He made 28 trips to foreign countries as well as many trips in the United States with North Carolina Baptist Men to assist in disaster relief. He was also a former Merchant Marine.
He was a long -time member of West Burnsville Baptist Church and served many years in a variety of positions of service, including Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Discipleship Training Director and RA Youth Leader.
A memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 30th in West Burnsville Baptist Church. Rev. Ricky Ray and Rev. Terry Long will officiate. Visitation will immediately follow the service. Graveside services will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in Fairview Cemetery at Horton Hill.