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1924 Carol 2022

Carol Jane Howell

February 29, 1924 — April 5, 2022

HOWELL, CAROL JANE (ZENDMAN) of Youngstown, Ohio, formerly of Newton, Cambridge and Lexington, died peacefully on April 5, 2022. She was a devoted mother of Charles Howell and Peter Howell and grandmother of Nicholas Howell and Elizabeth (Howell) Madsen. She was preceded in death by her husband, Albert Charles Howell; her father and mother, Isaac Zendman II and Jane (Pais) Zendman; and her brothers Isaac (Buddy) Zendman III and Peter Zendman.

Carol grew up in New York on Long Island and in New York City. Her father was proprietor of a lace importing business, which her mother led after his death in 1944. The family employed a governess, Elsie Jones, to manage the children. Carol credited Elsie’s influence for her precocity in reading, her early love of poetry, and her familiarity with Christian hymns, such as “Abide with Me” and “Amazing Grace.”

During World War II, Carol attended Emerson College, where she met and fell in love with Albert Charles Howell, the son of a career army officer who had entered the Army Air Force after graduation from Harvard and was studying at MIT to be a weather forecaster. After they were married, they lived a short time in Pratt, Kansas, where Charles was stationed, before returning to Boston at the end of the war.

After military service, Charles returned to Harvard for a master’s in mathematics. Carol earned a master’s in English history at Radcliffe. The couple lived in Brookline, Boston, and Newton, where they raised two sons, Charles and Peter. The experience of child rearing kindled Carol’s interest in education. She attended a course on the Orton-Gillingham method for phonetic teaching of reading and later completed a second master’s in special education from Lesley College, which led to a position as a remedial reading teacher in Cambridge City Schools. After her husband’s death in 1978, she continued her work as a teacher for 11 more years, retiring in 1989.

In retirement, Carol traveled widely, mainly in Europe. Her brother Peter, a fashion designer and cofounder of the Ognibene-Zendman fashion house, lived in Rome; she visited him there several times. She resumed her interest in writing first sparked by Elsie’s poetry. In her twenties and thirties she had published stories and poems in Child Life. She then moved on to adult short stories, a memoir, and novels. Her publications include a reminiscence, “Rememberings of Elsie”; “Letters from Home” in Pig Iron 17, a collection of epistolary short fiction; and a work of historical fiction, “Pages from a Seventeenth Century Diary,” which she wrote for a summer course at Cambridge University. “Pages” was published last fall in Copperfield Review.

In 2002, Carol entered Brookhaven, an assisted living facility in Lexington, MA, where she continued to write, play bridge, and entertain friends for 17 years. Brookhaven provided literary inspiration. It is the setting for Elder Affairs, her principal literary achievement, a novel about generational change and the anxiety of aging, self-published in 2012 and still available on Amazon.

At Brookhaven, Carol acquired a small group of intimate friends, which included Joanne Keenan, who had worked at John Hancock with Carol’s husband; Alice Mackey, wife of the Harvard mathematician George Mackey, and Mary (DD) Abeles. The group met weekly for bridge, rotated responsibility for refreshments, and provided lively commentary on the trials of advancing age. Together they faced the ultimate indignity of advancing years: the surrender of driving privileges.

In 2019 DD died. Joanne faced new health challenges. Carol’s son Charles and his wife Louise invited her to come to live with them in Youngstown, Ohio. She arrived there four months before the COVID shutdown and the solitary confinement of her peers.

Youngstown was as exotic in its way as Europe or North Africa, with appliances, accents, and television programming unlike anything previously encountered. Despite these challenges, Carol acquired fast friends: a brother and sister doctor-nurse team who made monthly home visits; a podiatrist of awesome precision; Charles and Louise’s friend Louise Theall; and Cheryl Bianconi, her caregiver, whose mother had shopped in the New York stores Carol’s mother once patronized. She weathered COVID with scarcely a sniffle, and emerged from a rare visit to a clinic triumphant to have been the first in the family to be vaccinated.

From a sunny corner of the new addition Charles and Louise had had built for her, Carol kept up a lively correspondence with her shrinking circle of friends, family, and former colleagues by phone and by email. Two days before she died, sitting up in bed, she caught up on Zoom with granddaughter Liz. On the last day of her life, her son Peter sang to her on Zoom. She died peacefully that night, with Liz, Charles, Louise, and her beloved Cheryl beside her.

Besides Peter, Charles, Liz, and Nick, she leaves behind Charles’s wife Louise; Peter’s partner Janet Levy; Liz’s husband Paul Madsen; Nick’s wife Inna Mashanova; step-grandsons Philip and Gregory Hogate and Gregory’s wife Nicole Penneau; step-great-grandchildren Callie Hogate and Mira and Lesha Mashanova; her sister-in-law Jeanne Zendman, Buddy’s wife; Buddy and Jeanne’s three sons, James, Marc, and Jon Zendman; and three children of her husband’s sister Alice Howell Friedman: Elizabeth Friedman, Joel Friedman, and Suzanne Friedman Strassberger.

A memorial service will be held at the Newton Cemetery Chapel at 10:30 am on Saturday, April 16, with a burial service to follow.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Carol Jane Howell, please visit our flower store.


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