John McCoul Howison, 91

John McCoul Howison was born on January 11, 1925 in Bogata, Texas to William Clatterbuck Howison and Raviah Sullivan Currin Howison. He married Joan Carney, also a Texan, while both were assigned in Tehran, Iran. They were the proud parents of Martha Lynne Howison, John Neil Howison and wife Sheila, and Stephen Carney Howison and wife Nancy; and step-grandparents to Tony and John David Hudgeons and wife Heather. After Joan’s passing, he married for a second time to Rachel Clark Braswell of Paris in 1997, becoming the proud step-parent of her children Lauren Braswell Fondell and husband Chris, and Amy Braswell Burrows,  and grandchildren Dayna Fondell, Will Fondell, Jill Burrows Nutt and Shannon Burrows. He was preceded in death by his younger brother Graham Henry Howison.

He attended public schools in Bogata and Kilgore, Texas. He was Senior Class President and Valedictorian as well as a champion debater. In order to pay for Kilgore Junior College he worked as a sales clerk, soda jerk, radio DJ, newspaper stringer, photographer and carpenter. After serving in World War II, he graduated from Harvard College (A.B.), the Naval War College, where he authored The Kurdish War (1964), and George Washington University (M.A.). A lifelong scholar, he also attended Princeton University, Texas A&M Commerce, the University of North Texas, and Paris Junior College.

He served as a Navigator in the Army Air Corps during World II in Italy with the 460th Bombardment Group. His B-24 bomber was shot down and he parachuted over Slovakia, then became a prisoner of war in Germany. As the Allies approached and his captors fled, he escaped the P.O.W. camp by swimming an icy moat. He was held by the Russians until he was able to escape to Canadian lines. He was awarded an Air Medal and a Purple Heart.

As a Foreign Service Officer, from June 1947, he served in Afghanistan, Turkey, twice in Iran, Italy, and Liberia; and at the US Mission to the United Nations as Political Counselor under George H. W. Bush, John Scali, Pat Moynihan and William Scranton.  He was named Alternate US Representative to the United Nations Security Council by President Nixon. During assignments to the State Department in Washington, his responsibilities were connected to US relations with Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Greece, and Cyprus. He accompanied Cyrus Vance on his 1967 Cyprus Mission for which Vance was credited with avoiding war between Turkey and Greece in the context of the US-USSR Cold War. He retired in 1976 and moved back to Bogata. After marrying Rachel, he divided his residence between Bogata and Paris.

A lifelong lover of literature, he served on the staff of the Harvard Advocate and wrote poetry which was published in Sulphur River Poetry Review which he helped to found, the American Literary Review and What Brings You Here, a collection of poetry and photography about Northeast Texas. He was an active member of the Paris Poets Society. He was a strong supporter of public libraries in Clarksville, Paris, and Bogata; and of the Democratic Party.

He died on December 17, 2016 at his home in Paris.  Memorial Services have been scheduled for 2:00pm on Tuesday, December 20 in the First Baptist Church of Bogata with Dr. Ed Lee, of First United Methodist, Bogata officiating.  The family will receive friends from 1-2pm in the Church following a meal in the Baptist Church Fellowship Hall beginning at 12:30. The Family will have a private burial of the cremains at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Red River County Library, 307 N Walnut St, Clarksville, TX 75426



  1. The ChristensenFamily says:

    We are saddened to hear about your loss. John Howison led an incredibly rich life. We are all the better for having known him.

  2. Stent (Wolfe) Linda says:

    So sorry to hear about John’s passing. I enjoyed the times I spent with him so much. He was such a fount of incredibly interesting information and stories about his encounters during his life. And was an absolute jewel of a gentleman. A true role model for all of us.

    — Linda (Wolfe) Stent

  3. Carl Christensen says:

    Deepest sympathy to friends and family. Mr. Howison touched many lives with his warmth and kindness. We will carry him with us daily. God bless you all.

  4. Jim Zehetner says:

    John Howison, an amazing mentor and educator who positively affected more lives than most realize.

    Dad would sometimes let me go to work with him during the summer and I would walk around town going from store to store harassing the owners, bugging Rick Bachman at Duren’s feed store across from the factory, or tearing down carburetors at Mike Boulware’s auto shop. One summer I remember Dad let me bring my bicycle to town and I rode it from the brush factory to downtown. I always liked going to the Red River County library. I could spend a whole day there, especially participating in the summer reading programs. They always had activities planned for the morning and I would spend the afternoon bugging the library staff. I wanted to help put up books or find books by searching the card catalog.

    I noticed one day there was a new face at the desk in the middle of the library. I was looking through the card catalog and having trouble finding a particular book. This gentleman was close by, so I asked him for help. The kind faced gentleman walked over and helped me find what I was looking for. He spent the next several minutes educating me on ways to reference the different sections of the card catalog. I learned so much during that short conversation. If I remember correctly, I spent the rest of the afternoon searching through the card catalog and then finding the books on the shelf.

    Several days later, I can’t remember if it was my mother or my father, but one of them introduced me to Mr. Howison, the new librarian, and the same man who taught me how to use the card catalog. I remember mom telling me Mr. Howison was a very well educated scholar and that I should learn all I can from him. Mom told me I could go to work with Dad whenever I wanted to so I could spend time at the library.

    Over the next days, weeks and summers I remember talking to Mr. Howison and listening to his stories and how they related to life. Just reading his obituary I realized where these life lessons he would teach me originated from. Mr. Howison never told me specifics about his military career, but he mentioned on occasion his service in foreign countries and his Harvard education, as we discussed books I picked out. Most times I would pick out a book a 10 year old would want to read, and instead he would respectfully point me to an educational book I needed to read. Mr. Howison was always quoting authors and poets, which I found amazing just on the fact he could remember so many words without looking at the book.

    As the years passed, I grew older and going to the library wasn’t cool anymore. I look back and give a huge amount of respect to a man who only wanted to educate tomorrows youth with a little of the knowledge such a worldly man possessed. Mr. Howison gave me a foundation that kept me in a library rather than somewhere else, away from elements that would lead to possibly getting in trouble, as so much of the youth did in a small town. Red River County will never know how lucky it was to have Mr. Howison in its history books.

    Jim Zehetner

  5. Andy Weckherlin says:

    My family’s condolences to you and your family. My father is also a WWII vet and worked as a radio man on B-17s and later on B-29s. He is 92 today! I honor Mr. Howison for his service to our country and also to Czech Republic and Slovakia as he helped liberate them both in a very trying time of history. By his obituary, Mr. Howison was indeed a very special man and the world is definitely worse off without him. As the saying goes, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore”. A prayer and a salute to Mr. John Howison. May God rest his soul. Andy

  6. Dusan Hudec says:

    Dear family of Mr. Howison,

    Let me express my sincere condolences on the passing of Mr. John McCoul Howison. The hours we spent with him were unforgettable.
    I admired his energy and strong will. I keep the memory of Mr. Howison in my heart.

    Dusan Hudec

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