William Maxwell Howell Jr., age 86, left this world on September 7, 2023, after a brief but aggressive illness. He passed peacefully with his beloved wife and daughter by his side. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, grandfather (Papa) and friend who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
Max was preceded in death by his father, Senator William Maxwell Howell, Sr.; mother, Lula Agnes Gray Howell; and son, William Maxwell Howell III. He is survived by his loving wife, Ferne Adair Howell; daughter, Lori Howell Bly and her husband Martin; granddaughter Hayley Bly Morgan and her husband William; sister Patricia Howell Tate, her husband Jon, their son Jon and family; grandsons David Howell Perkins and Grant Howell Perkins; and great-grandsons Maxwell and William Perkins.
Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Max received both his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He self-identified as a Razorback throughout his life and always followed their football and basketball teams, even back in the day when that meant holding an out-of-range AM radio station to his ear, straining to hear the plays through the static. He shared his passion for both math and the Hogs with his children and grandchildren, ensuring they could recite Euler’s formula and call out “Wooo Pig Sooie!” with the proper enthusiasm when it really counted to help win the game.
Max was a brilliant engineer with a decades-long career at Lockheed Martin, where he specialized in designing complex navigational systems. Once retired, he enjoyed golf and horticulture. He and Ferne enjoyed traveling both within the U.S. and Europe, especially Italy, which had long been at the top of their bucket list.
Max was a devoted family man, and he was never happier than being at home gatherings with his loved ones. He enjoyed cooking, and celebratory dinners often were centered around one of his acclaimed specialty dishes of spaghetti or chili.