Columbiana says goodbye to police officer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Columbiana Police Officer Phillip Howell lost his battle with colon cancer Saturday.

That same day, citizens of Columbiana turned out in large numbers for a breakfast fund-raiser at Bernie&8217;s Restaurant to benefit the Howell family.

The event was worked by Russell Rasco, Columbiana branch manager at M&F Bank, and other bank volunteers; Linda Cook of Busy Hands, Kathy Brown of the Columbiana Merchants & Professionals Association and other residents including longtime merchant Sonya Lefkovits.

An account was also set up at the bank for Howell&8217;s family and a benefit golf tournament was scheduled Monday.

On Monday, it was estimated by bank employees that $16,000 had been raised in a period of nine days.

Between 400 and 450 people were served breakfast at that fund-raiser alone, said former Columbiana Police Chief Michael Lann.

When asked about Howell, Lann said, &8220;When I had something that absolutely had to be done perfectly, I gave it to him. He was the most detail-oriented police officer I&8217;ve ever known.&8221;

Lann, who handles security for M&F Bank, said Howell experienced stomach pain in 2001. His appendix had burst, but it had probably happened a year earlier and cancer developed.

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said Howell&8217;s career from high school was with the city. He said Howell chose to go into law enforcement.

&8220;From the time I&8217;ve known Phillip, he was a stabilizing force in the department, and I always knew him to do his best. He was always instrumental in our police department as a training officer and excelled in that position.

&8220;He was well respected among the other officers and among the other city employees.&8221;

Current Columbiana Police Chief Johnny Brown said the dictionary definition of police officer was Howell.

Brown said he had known Howell since the third grade and called him &8220;one of the most dedicated police officers I&8217;ve even seen.&8221;

&8220;You give him a task, and it&8217;s taken care of A to Z,&8221; Brown said.

Howell spent 18 years working for the city of Columbiana, including 16 with the police department.

Brown said Howell loved to fish and escort the Shelby County High School football team to games.

Howell&8217;s funeral was yesterday at the First Baptist Church in Columbiana with burial following in Columbiana City Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife, Samantha Howell; his sons, Ethan and Clay Howell; and many other friends and family members.