Johnnie Lee Peak Kucera Howell , 68, or Rosenberg, TX, passed away on April 1, 2011 after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Johnnie was born on August 21, 1942, in Galveston, TX, and grew up in Rosenberg, TX, where she graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in 1960. Johnnie attended The University of Texas at Austin and graduated from The University of Houston with a degree in Elementary Education.
Johnnie was an extremely passionate and dedicated educator during her thirty-four year tenure as a first-grade and later, resource teacher, with HISD. She began her career in 1967 as Mrs. Bettis at Virgil I. Grissom Elementary, and subsequently taught at Frost Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, and Kate Bell Elementary. She made an enormous positive impact on her students, not only educationally, but also personally. If one of her students or their family needed something, Mrs. Howell was there for them. Johnnie was very active in The Congress of Houston Teachers, serving as President for consecutive terms from 1990 through 1994. Her compassion and generosity extended to her volunteer work at South Main Baptist Church, where she lead the Adult Special Needs Sunday School Class and was active in The Emergency Aid Coalition. Johnnie also was very involved in the Neurofibromatosis Foundation, which stemmed from her close relationship with Reggie Bibbs, one of her very special students who has NF.
Another of Johnnie’s passions was her volunteerism and service with the Ft. Bend County Republican Party. Johnnie was an active member and officer of the Republican Women On The Go, receiving the 1997 Woman of the Year award. One of the highlights of her involvement with the Republican Party was attending the 2001 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Larry.
Until her health failed, Johnnie was also active in the West End Ft. Bend County American Heart Association, serving on its board and the Rosenberg Lions Club. Additionally, as a member of Ft. Bend Senior Citizens, she enjoyed visiting residents at area nursing homes.
Johnnie is preceded in death by her mother, Clara Koehler Graves, her father, John Peak, and her beloved brothers, George Kucera and JC Kucera.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Larry Howell; her son, James Michael Bettis, Jr. and wife Kelley; her daughter, Tommye Bettis Dominy; and her grandchildren, Douglas Patrick Coleman, Sarah Elizabeth Coleman, James Michael Bettis III, and Jett Bryant Bettis. She is also survived by cousins, Ruth Sparren and Billy Gaupp; sisters-in law, Lillian Kucera and Mary Ann Whitlow and husband Sam; brother-in-law Bobby Howell and wife Lisa, and niece, Sheila Bezdek.
Visitation will be 6 – 8 p.m. Monday, April 4, 2011 at Garmany & Carden Funeral Directors Chapel, 1201 4th Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471. A service celebrating Johnnie’s life will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at Garmany & Carden Chapel, with Rev. M. Eugene Vickrey officiating, followed by a reception at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1208 5th Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association , 2242 West Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030-2008 or online at www.alz.org.
Published in Houston Chronicle from Apr. 2 to Apr. 3, 2011
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