Carolyn M. Howell

carolyn howell

August 25, 1927 ~ November 19, 2023

Born in: Lavinia, Tennessee
Resided in: McLean, Virginia

Carolyn McNail Howell (“Nena”), of McLean, Virginia passed away on Sunday, November 19, 2023, at the age of 96. She lived a long, wonderful life overcoming many challenges. She is survived by her two sons, Joe and his wife Barbara and their four children (Chad Green, Heather Green, Andrea Doyle, Shawn Howell), Chandler and his wife Georgiann and their two children (Elaina Howell, Eva Howell), and eight great-grandchildren.

Born at her family farmhouse in Lavinia, Tennessee in 1927, Carolyn grew up in the small town of Milan, Tennessee with her parents Samuel T. McNail and Eunice Coleman McNail, and her younger brother John Thomas McNail. She graduated High School Valedictorian and attended Memphis State College for two years before contracting polio.

While at college, she met and married Army Air Force Lt. Joe Lester Howell, Jr. of Memphis, who promised to show her the world. And that he did.

Their marriage began in Memphis, but new jobs took them to Texas and then Miami where their first son, Joe III, was born in 1952. They moved to Jackson, MS where their second son, Sam, was born in 1955. Two years after Sam’s birth, a tragic house fire took his life, injuring Carolyn in her heroic efforts to rescue her sons. Her third son, Chandler, was born two years later in 1959.

In 1967 the family moved to McLean VA, where husband Joe established a legislative affairs office for Allstate Insurance Company. In that role, they met and

entertained many high-profile dignitaries, all U.S. Presidents from Lydon Johnson to George W. Bush, and partied with movie stars including Frank Sinatra, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, and Charles Nelson Riley. Carolyn was among the most genuine of people and truly was the wind beneath her husband’s career. It was her down-home-style that brought company presidents and their wives to town for visits.

For vacations, they traveled internationally to much of Europe and South America, and always secured a family vacation each summer to the beach.

Carolyn spent the last 12 years of her life at Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean, VA. She loved meeting new residents, organizing and playing bridge, and serving as a facility marketing model because of her demeanor and style.

The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Vinson Hall Retirement Community, and the nurses of Vitas Hospice Care.

A visitation with the family will be held at 12pm Thursday, December 28, 2023 at McLean Baptist Church, 1367 Chain Bridge Rd, McLean, VA 22101. A formal service will immediately follow at 1pm. She will be buried in Memphis, Tennessee next to her husband Joe and son Sam.
to view the service click the link below


Visitation: December 28, 2023 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

McLean Baptist Church
1367 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101


Service: December 28, 2023 1:00 pm

McLean Baptist Church
1367 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101


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  1. The Owners and Staff at the Money and King Funeral Home, wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call us anytime as we are always available to you.

    Bob Gallagher
    Funeral Director

  2. Carolyn Howell was a dear friend and mentor to me for more than 20 years. She taught me a considerable amount about grace under pressure, and how to survive the slings and arrows of life. She was a lovely lady who had no problem sharing her opinion and wisdom. She was a realist, yet full of optimism. She had a quick wit and a warm smile. For many years, I looked forward to seeing her at church and when she was no longer able to attend, she was greatly missed, but I always knew she was there in spirit. Words cannot express the positive influence she had on my life. She became like a second mother to me when my own mom was thousands of miles away. I cherished her friendship and guidance and will miss her so much. I know she is reunited with Joe and that warms my heart. RIP Carolyn after a life well lived!

  3. Sweet Carolyn
    I’ve cherished the last 50 some years as a friend I could always share my feelings
    I’ve loved you and someday will join you in heaven
    God bless Joey and Chandler and their families

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