Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/4  


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What do five families,
three generations -- from the 1930s to the present --
have in common? 
Ithaca College!

"Why Go Anywhere Else?"

The Howell family is full of teachers -- of a variety of subjects.

It gets complicated trying to keep track of all the IC connections of the Howell family.

When Ernestine Lord '47 arrived at Ithaca College, she had no idea that a son and two grandchildren -- plus a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter-in-law -- would all follow her there. Her future husband was a student on campus, but she hadn't met him yet. All she knew was that a high school coach had recommended Ithaca College as a place to study physical education.

She found a room in the home of a family who agreed to supply room and board in exchange for some babysitting. During World War II, classes at Ithaca College were still held downtown, and the family lived up on Hudson Street on South Hill. Students now rush up the hill to class and saunter home, but Ernestine hurried down the hill to class and hiked back up. And although she doesn't remember exactly when or where she first met her husband, the late Herbert Howell '50, she does remember that he had a car and could drive her home up the hill after dates.

The two married while she was a junior, and their first son, Chuck, was born the following year. "They were very flexible," says Ernestine Lord Howell about the College administration, which allowed her a long stretch of time off in her senior year, then welcomed her into the master's program -- even when her toddler son came to golf class with her. "He used to get into trouble, dropping the ball in the cup before people had finished putting," she laughs. Ernestine taught physical education in Lansing, New York, after she earned her master's degree and the children were all off in school.

Chuck's younger brother, Rodney Howell '70, grew up to be a talented high school football player. A college in Ohio offered him a football scholarship, but, says his mother, "he thought he'd rather stay here" in Ithaca. He enrolled at Ithaca College and majored in physical education, teaming up with friends to study for biology exams and taking a memorable physiology class with Robert Caliel. He played football for Coach Jim Butterfield and was the school's career rushing leader at the time of his graduation. While at Ithaca, Rodney met Cindy Colby '68, a music student and the niece of Art Narr '49 and Yvonne Fix Narr '50.

"During my freshman year," Cindy remembers, "the curfew was 10:00 p.m., and you got 10 pink slips per semester to stay out until midnight -- and that included weekends. We were given strict instructions: 'You may date Cornell men. And of course, you may date Ithaca College men. But watch out for the physical education majors! And whatever you do, don't date any townies!' " She laughs. "Rodney was a physical education major and a townie, so he had two strikes against him." Clearly, the advice only enhanced his attractiveness.

Both Rodney and Cindy went on to be teachers. Rodney taught phys ed in Lansing before switching to the construction business; he currently works for a large outfit in the Ithaca area. Cindy taught vocal music for 34 years -- 10 in Ithaca and the remainder in Lansing. Cindy's family is full of Ithaca alumni, too. Her late sister Connie Colby Harrica '72 married a Cornell hockey player, and her sister Carol Colby Parra '75, a physical education major, married Paul Harrica '73, then the president of Phi Epsilon Kappa. Carol teaches gym near Plattsburgh, New York; her husband is a school principal. "Things changed so quickly in just a couple of years in the '60s," remembers Cindy, "between the time I was a student and the time my sister came. I can remember having to yell 'Men on the floor!' when I lived in the dorm, but just three years later there were men and women living on the same floor."

When it came time for Rodney and Cindy's son Tim Howell '92 to look at colleges, says Cindy, "we were careful not to say, 'Go to Ithaca.' We took him to look at a number of different schools, but he was interested in sports medicine, and in the end he said, 'Why should I go anywhere else when this is right in my own backyard?' " Tim ended up switching from sports medicine to biology; he now teaches high school biology in Oswego. In the meantime, his brother Todd Howell '93 had enrolled at Ithaca. Todd had been along on the day the family brought Tim to see the campus. "I don't want to go to high school anymore," Todd announced that day. "I want to go here."

An English major with minors in writing, theater, and speech communication, Todd was a hurdler on the track squad all four years and makes special mention of his affection for Coach Jim Nichols. After graduating he spent a year on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula teaching and taking education courses and returned to a teaching job in Horseheads, just southwest of Ithaca. "That's where he met his wife," says his grandmother Ernestine. "She was teaching music there. And the funny thing is, she went to Ithaca College, too!" Todd and Kate Rohr Howell '96 have two young children, and Todd now teaches eighth grade English at Lansing Middle School.

When asked whether their children might go to Ithaca College some day and make it four generations in a row, Todd thinks for a second, then laughs: "We don't even know where they're going to kindergarten yet!"

-- Antonia Saxon

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