The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)
obituary. mr. irwin joseph howell, — Assoc. M. Inst. C.E
obituary. mr. irwin joseph howell,
Assoc. M. Inst. C.E.
So live, that, when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon; but sustain'd and sooth'd
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one that draws the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
With deep regret we have to report the decease cf Mr. I. J. Howell, District Engineer at Wanganui, on the morning of the 13th May, 1937.
Born in New Plymouth in 1895, and educated at the New Plymouth Boys' High School, Mr. Howell joined the Railway Service on 11th February, 1913, as a Civil Engineering Cadet in the Chief Engineer's Office, Wellington. Later in the same year he was transferred to the District Engineer's Office at Wanganui, and a year later to the Department's New Works Office at Auckland.
Mr. Howell enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces on 24th November, 1915, and was in active service in France until sent home suffering from shell shock early in 1918. He resumed duty on 26th June, 1918, as a Draftsman in the Auckland District Office, where he rendered valuable service, although not always in the best of health, for six years.
On 24th July, 1924, Mr. Howell was appointed Assistant Engineer at Ohakune, which was then the headquarters of a district covering the North Island Main Trunk Line from Frankton to Marton. Next year he was again transferred to Auckland where he became Assistant District Engineer on the 1st April, 1927. On the retirement of Mr. J. K. Lowe, District Engineer, early in 1931, Mr. Howell was for about a year Acting District Engineer at Auckland.
On 13th January, 1932, Mr. Howell was promoted to District Engineer at Wanganui. On the closing of the Ohakune District in 1935 a large portion of that district was added to the Wanganui District, greatly adding to Mr. Howell's responsibilities. The combined district embraced all the railway bridges over the many fast streams flowing from Mt. Egmont, which frequently scoured out the bridge foundations, the treacherous papa cuttings of the inland regions, the high viaducts of the Main Trunk Line, the famous Spiral with its tunnels and boulder cuttings, where New Zealand's most important trains pass in the night. At all times he had a firm grip in every detail cf his difficult charge, and always held the confidence and respect of his whole staff. He was at his best at times of slips and washouts. Called out in all weathers, generally in great discomfort and often in failing health, he always managed to keep smiling and his cheerfulness was infectious. He would never be beaten.
His range of duties brought him many contacts. His outside interests were many and varied. He will be remembered most by those who knew him best for his capacity for friendship, for the way his face would light up on meeting an old friend. He was the same to everyone, high or low. The representative assembly at his funeral at New Plymouth showed the esteem in which he was held. On behalf of the management and of railwaymen of all ranks we offer our sincere tribute to his memory, and our sympathy to his widow and to his brothers and sisters who survive him.