Carole Sue Howell was called to her place in heaven on Thursday May 4, 2023, on her 80th birthday. Her passing came unexpectedly due to a pulmonary embolism from a recent partial hip replacement. She passed away in the care of the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, during a procedure to try and remove the embolism. The family would like to extend a big thank you to the doctors and staff at EIRMC for all the care and attention they gave to Carole and the family.
Carole was born in Miles City, Montana, on May 4, 1943, to Rueben and Olga Ramona Mehlhaff. She joined the Mehlhaff family with an older brother, Doug, and an older sister, Barbra. The family was living in Baker, Montana, at the time, but Miles City was the closest hospital in the day. The Mehlhaff family was young and was on the move as they moved from Baker, Montana, to Big Timber, Montana, shortly after Carole’s birth where Rueben and Ramona had a bakery and supplied the local community of Big Timber with the needed bread and goodies. After a few years in Big Timber, the Mehlhaff family move to Bozeman, Montana, where Rueben went to work for the Bon Ton Bakery. After a couple of years living above the Bakery and in Bozeman, they found a small piece of land in Bear Canyon just south of Bozeman with a small cabin on it. Carole began elementary school in Bozeman, and then moved to the small Bear Canyon Country school for her 5th & 6th grade years. Rueben continued to be a baker, and Ramona was the mom raising the kids and keeping the house going. While growing up in Bear Canyon, Carole enjoyed everything about the outdoors. Her dad bought her a horse back in the day and she was hooked. She could always be found riding her horse to school, and used it to meet up with friends and play outside. Carole most often could be found outside whether it was helping her mom or dad doing chores, or fixing up their cabin, she needed to be outside. As the family became settled in Bozeman, Carole attended Bozeman High School where she began to pick up many more outdoor activities. Alpine Skiing was a favorite of hers for many years. Rueben and Ramona were also very outdoorsy as they could always be found camping and fishing. You could often find the Mehlhaff family camping at Cliff and Wade Lakes, or at one of the campgrounds in the Gallatin Canyon fishing the Gallatin River. After many years of baking, Rueben traded in his cooking apron for a white painting shirt and began a commercial painting business in Bozeman. After a few years in the business, Bill Howell, came to him for some paint and was introduced to his daughter, Carole. Carole at the time of meeting Bill was working at the Ag Department and enrolled in Montana State College (now MSU). Carole was working and in college and working towards an Art degree. Carole was a talented artist and had the knack of drawing and doing a lot of different kinds of paintings. After a 30-day courtship with Bill, the two were married in Bozeman on October 31, 1964, at the Hope Lutheran church where Ramona later worked in the office. The wedding of Bill and Carole took place on Halloween and there always was a joke as to who got tricked and who got treated between them. Bill and Carole were young and on the move as any young couple would be. After a small time in Bozeman, Bill and Carole moved to Chicago, Illinois, where they spent two years with Bill working for the National 4H News. They missed the mountains and then moved back to Butte, Montana, in 1969 where Bill took a job with the School of Mines (now Montana Tech) as a Marketing and Promotions person. He was a master with his camera, writing skills, and promoting things. After a short time in Butte, Marc, the oldest son, was born on May 22, 1970. Two years later, the second son, Jason, was born August 9, 1972. After four years in Butte, the now Howell family made a move to Big Sky, Montana, where Bill took a Marketing and Promotions job with the founder of Big Sky Resort, Chet Huntley. Bill and Carole lived in Big Sky for two years prior to meeting up with their soon to be business partner, Clyde Seely. Bill and Carole then moved to West Yellowstone where they bought into the motel business that continued to grow into many different things in the tourism industry. Carole was a great mom raising the two boys, running the Ambassador motel office, laundry, employees, and managing the books.
There was never a dull moment in the Howell family. Bill and Carole always enjoyed hunting, fishing, and all the outdoor things West Yellowstone and the surrounding area offered. Carole gained many new friends through the motel and the local community. She was a proud member of the Beta Beta Sorority group that formed in West Yellowstone over the years, and the family was always involved with different things. Carole continued to always love to go camping, and the family would often meet up with Rueben and Ramona for camping and fishing trips. As Marc and Jason got older and started school sports, Carole and Bill were always present to cheer them on. Carole was always the glue that kept the Howell family connected. She was always up late checking in guests at the Motel, and always up early doing the family laundry or the motel laundry. Carole hardly ever took a rest from the businesses, kids, or husband. With Carole being a former Montana State College student, and Bill graduating from the University of Montana, the family always enjoys the many Bobcat Grizzly rivalry football games. There was always some betting going on between Bill and Carole, and the winner typically got $50. Over the years, Carole paid out way more than she ever received. But when the Bobcats did win, she never let you forget. Carole always had a good luck touch and loved to play video gaming machines, and more particularly Keno. She enjoyed her time playing “the machines” with some of her best friends like Helen Lampitt, John and Kathy Mitchel, or visiting with the locals while playing the machines.
Over the years as the motels and businesses were sold, Carole enjoyed having her grand kids around. Marc had a daughter, Dakota, and a son, Logan. Grandma Carole always enjoyed having them around and watching them grow and eventually making her a great grandma. Some of Carole’s proudest moments were getting videos of Dakota barrel racing on her horses, or seeing Logan graduate from Marine Boot Camp in San Diego, California. Dakota and Logan kept Grandma and Grandpa entertained in their many endeavors.
As time passed, Jason and Kim eventually had two kids, Hunter and Hannah. With Jason and Kim living in West Yellowstone, it was always a delight to have them over for dinner or just a visit. The Howell family would always come together for an annual Thanksgiving Day dinner tradition in either Lewistown or Denton, Montana, for some pheasant hunting and turkey dinner. During that time, the Bobcat Grizzly football game could always be seen on TV.
Carole is survived by her husband, Floyd William “Bill” Howell; her two sons, Marc Howell (Jen Lucas) and Jason (Kim) Howell; her older sister, Barbra (Ed) Rampy; 4 grandchildren, Dakota (Woodrow) Bingham, Logan (Kenzee) Howell, Hunter, and Hannah Howell. Carole also leaves behind 3 great grandchildren, Teagan & Hudson (Woodrow’s & Dakota’s kids) and Memphis (Logan’s & Kenzee’s boy).
Carole is preceded in death by her parents, Ruben and O’Ramona Mehlhaff; older brother, Doug (Audrey) Mehlhaff.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the West Yellowstone Foundation in Carole’s memory.