About SW Howell

Samuel Wade Howell was born on May 29, 1921 in Tahoka, Lynn County, Texas. He passed away peacefully at home on January 12, 2013. He was the only child of Henry Belton and Birdie Elizabeth Walters Howell. Wade as he was called went to school in Tahoka and graduated from Tahoka High School. While growing up in Tahoka he was a member of First Baptist Church and a Boy Scout. Wade achieved the rank of Life Scout, one merit badge short of Eagle. The merit badge was Lifesaving “All we had were stock tanks to swim in and you could not do the lifesaving merit badge in them” he used to say. The polio epidemic in 1935 caused the Boy Scouts to move the 1st National Boy Scout Jamboree to 1937 and Wade was old enough to go. He rode the train from Lubbock to New York City where they toured and he got to see the greats like Babe Ruth play baseball. The Jamboree was held on the great Mall of Washington DC. While in Washington Wade met and had his photo taken with Freshman Congressman George Mahon of Lubbock. In 1968 his son attended a National Scout Jamboree and had his photo taken with Senior Congressman George Mahon.

Wade enrolled in Texas Technological College and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Textile Engineering in 1942. World War II broke out before Wade finished college, since he was in his senior year they allowed him to graduate in 1942. In September 1942 he became a member of the United States Army Air Corp. Wade was assigned to attend Yale University for Air Corp Cadet School and was commissioned in 1943. He later went to Princeton to take Pratt and Whitney training. He loved to refer to that as his Ivy League schooling. He was a member of the 405th squadron of the 352nd Wing, a P 47 Thunderbolt fighter group. On D-day plus 6 he was on the mainland of Europe less than 30 miles from German lines making sure his fighters were ready to fly. The 405th was recognized in 2007 for its aid to the 141st Infantry Regiment ("First Texas") an infantry regiment in the United States Army. The lineage of the 141st includes units tracing origins to the Texas Revolution, such as Company A, First Texas, 1836, and other infantry companies of the First Texas formed in the 1870s and 1880s. During World War II a battalion assigned to the 36th Division was given the assignment to clear a ridge deep in the Vosges, but had been cut-off by the Germans. This occurred because the flanking units received an order to withdraw that failed to reach this battalion. This unit, the 1st Battalion of the 141st, had been cut off since October 24, 1944. The other two battalions of the 141st were unable to break through. The 405th was the only Air Corp unit that had flying weather they packed medical supplies, food, and ammunition in belly tanks and dropped them to the 1st Battalion.

Wade returned home to Tahoka, Texas in November 1945 in time for Thanksgiving. At the Thanksgiving dinner his Uncle George Snodgrass asked him what he was going to do, he said he thought we would go to Los Alamos, New Mexico which was booming at the time. Uncle George told him to be in Odessa, Texas on Monday morning they were building a new high school for J.L. Hair Construction. Wade was in Odessa on the Monday after Thanksgiving ready to work for his Uncle George Snodgrass Project Superintendent for J.L. Hair Construction. The project was Odessa High School at its current Dotsy Avenue location and he lived in a work shack that was located where the flagpole is now.

In 1947 Wade went to work for C. A. Tubbs Engineer, Lubbock Texas. He did field and office engineering and general land surveying and alignment surveying for the Ector County airport and county road projects. He was asked to go on a blind date, New Year’s Eve 1947, with a friend and met the love of his life, Katheryn McCurry who was working in Midland for a Standolin Petroleum. On May 22, 1948 in a small ceremony at Katheryn’s parent’s home in Nacogdoches Texas, they became husband and wife.

In 1948, Wade was doing Civil Engineering and Surveying for Texaco, Inc. In 1950, his first child Samuel Wade Howell II was born. Muldrow Aerial Surveys Inc, of Midland hired him to the Cartographic engineer responsible for preparing a controlled base map of North Dakota and part of South Dakota. In 1951 Kenneth E. Esmond of Odessa hired him to be the design engineer on subdivisions and improvements for the City of Odessa municipal expansion. Wade became a Licensed Professional Engineer, Texas # 9673 in July 1952, Licensed State Land Surveyor in November 1952, Licensed Professional Engineer, New Mexico # 1587 in March 1953 and Registered Public Surveyor, New Mexico # 1587 in March 1953. He commuted to Odessa from Midland via the train when Katheryn needed the car. In August of 1953 he was blessed with a daughter Susan Elizabeth Howell.

Wade decided that he did not like commuting and became a self-employed land surveyor and field engineer working for Phillip Petroleum, Texaco, TXL and others. In November 1955, he became the 280th Registered Professional Land Surveyor in Texas, and was active until December 31, 2012. During that time he was blessed with another daughter in April 1956, Sarah Jane Howell.

Kenneth E. Esmond needed more help and he hired Wade to come back to work for him as Chief Engineer over all field and office personnel. Wade could not turn down the offer and in 1958 went to work for Kenneth E. Esmond and later Freese, Nichols and Esmond. In 1959 he quit commuting and moved to Odessa. He retired in August 1977 and the next week opened S.W. Howell Engineering, Inc. along with his son Sam Howell II. Wade worked tirelessly to improve the City of Odessa and the County of Ector by helping his clients make improvements to the community.

On January 1, 2011 Wade stepped down as the principal and became President Emeritus of S.W. Howell, Inc.

Along the way Wade Howell served on various boards and was an active member of the Buffalo Trail Council, BSA, First United Methodist Church, Texas Society of Professional Surveyors, Texas Society of Professional Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers. Wade was a Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts, He holds the Silver Beaver and the God and Service religious Award for United Methodist in Scouting. He was honored as the Engineer of the year by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He was recognized by the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors as a Legend in Surveying.