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Virginia Howell

Sept. 3, 1916-Feb. 3, 2008

Virginia C. Mikkelson was born the daughter of Christian and Margaret (Ryan) Mikkelson on Sept. 3, 1916 in Aberdeen, S.D. That year she won her first beauty contest, selected as the 'Prettiest Baby in Aberdeen.' Virginia grew up in Aberdeen, Rockford, Ill., and Oakes, N.D. In Oakes she enjoyed participating in the high school drama club; performing in plays, musicals and declamation speaking.

After graduating high school Virginia worked in district government offices in Bismarck, Wahpeton and Fargo before moving to Lisbon, N.D., in 1938. There she met Joe Howell, a pharmacist in the local drugstore. They married Sept. 5, 1939. As they began their family Joe and Virginia moved from Lisbon to Duluth, Minn., Hettinger, N.D., and Renton, Wash. In 1948, they returned to Lisbon and purchased the drugstore. They raised their nine children in Lisbon before retiring to Detroit Lakes in 1974, where their youngest, Ginny, attended high school.

From 1953 on, Joe and Virginia immersed themselves in square dancing and ballroom dancing. For many years they taught ballroom dance in towns throughout eastern North Dakota. In 1961 Virginia started a ballet school for girls -- sharing her love for the dance.

Virginia taught her children through an enthusiastic outlook, her organizational skills, her dramatic talent, her unwavering love, her unending capacity for work and her manifest religious faith. Her children were ingrained with her confident outlook on life. She was fair in doling out work, but expected good results. For any task not completed satisfactorily there were repeat opportunities to get it done right.

As a member of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Lisbon and later Holy Rosary Church in Detroit Lakes, Virginia's deep faith shined bright through her prayer, service and volunteerism. She quietly shared her faith, often through little more than acts of kindness. She possessed the great quality of making others feel special and important.

Though she never was a professional actress, her joy for 'the performance' never left her. With her energy for having fun she willingly took center stage to tell an intriguing story, using speaking skills, costumes and props to bring events to life. She enjoyed the give-and-take of well-planned pranks. Good humor and laughter marked her life.

From childhood, Virginia loved the water and enjoyed fishing. In retirement she found relaxation in sailing on Floyd Lake. She initiated every grandchild into the ritual of spray-painting their name inside the culvert at the far end of the lake.

One of her biggest disappointments was never being able to attend college, but she never lost her thirst for learning. Virginia challenged herself through hard work, games of bridge, reading, oil painting, dancing, sailing, volunteering and being a good teacher.

Virginia will be deeply and forever missed by her children: Pat Howell of Seattle, Mike (Kela) Howell of West Fargo, Bill (Lynette) Howell of Prosser, Wash., Margaret (Tom) Zidon from Grand Forks, Tom (Kathleen) Howell from Camas, Wash., Joe (Carmen) Howell from Lisbon-Kindred, Dan Howell from Medicine Lake, Minn., Cathy (Arden) Howey from Beaver Dam, Wis., and Ginny (Neil) Heinitz from East Wenatchee, Wash.; 23 grandchildren; 17 great grandchildren; her sister Jean Berg from Huntington Beach, Calif.; and a multitude of friends.

Preceding Virginia in death were her husband, Joseph Howell (May 4, 1997); her parents; four brothers; five sisters; and many dear friends.

Visitation will take place from 33-5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Holy Rosary Church, Detroit Lakes, with a Vigil Service from 8-9 p.m. It will continue for one hour prior to services at the church on Thursday.

A mass of Christian burial is scheduled for 12 noon on Thursday, Feb. 7 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit Lakes, with with the Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., officiating. Interment is in St. Aloysius Cemetery, Lisbon, N.D. Virginia donated her body to science at the University of North Dakota Medical School, and there will be no graveside service at this time.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred sent to a charity of your choice in memory of Virginia Howell.

The David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes has been assisting the family with arrangements.