Marion Ingersoll Howell, 90, a pastor's wife, counselor, and educator who nurtured the emotional needs of children, families, and the elderly, died Saturday, Nov. 27, at Stapeley in Germantown, a retirement residence.
In the early years of her marriage, Mrs. Howell cared for two sons and assisted her husband, the Rev. Joseph Howell, in a rural parish in Ohio, in a suburban parish in New York, and with the operations of a Quaker-sponsored work camp in Indianapolis.
In 1961, the Howells moved to Philadelphia when he joined the staff of the board of Homeland Ministries of the United Church of Christ and she joined the staff of the Marriage Council of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.
After her husband died in 1971, Mrs. Howell, who had a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's degree from Teachers College at Columbia University, joined the department of child care in Temple University's School of Social Administration. At Temple, she trained and supervised adults working with emotionally disturbed children and adolescents and from 1983 to 1984 was acting chair of the department. She retired in 1986.
Mrs. Howell described her 15 years at Temple as the richest part of her professional life, said a close friend, Happy Fernandez, president of Moore College of Art and Design. In later years, Mrs. Howell often met former students working in the field, Fernandez said.
In the 1980s, Mrs. Howell earned a certificate in gerontology from the Institute on Aging at Temple. She began working at the Supportive Older Women's Network as a student intern with the Institute on Aging and remained for more than two years.
In describing her career, Mrs. Howell wrote that at Temple and at SOWN she had worked with a wide range of adults: "This diversity in age, class, and ethnicity has deepened my conviction that the teaching-learning process has its own integrity at all ages and at all levels of education."
From 1990 to 1992, Mrs. Howell volunteered in the playroom for infants and toddlers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and in 1990 she initiated a bereavement group associated with the hospice program at Presbyterian Medical Center, where she was a volunteer grief counselor.
She served on the board of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and on the board of the Northwest Interfaith Movement, where she helped plan a conference on aging in 1992.
Mrs. Howell, who was known as Mario to her friends, grew up in a prominent family in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her father, Raymond Ingersoll, was borough president of Brooklyn from 1934-40, and her mother, Marion, was active with Margaret Sanger in the birth control movement. While at Smith, she spent a summer at a Quaker work camp in Tennessee and met her future husband there. They married in 1942.
Mrs. Howell helped her Smith classmate Betty Friedan formulate a questionnaire that they mailed out before their 15th reunion, asking the women about their satisfaction with their roles in life. The completed questionnaires sparked the research that culminated in Friedan's classic book, The Feminine Mystique.
An accomplished poet, Mrs. Howell published a collection of her verse in 1997. Included was a poem about a son at play:
beds made into barks
caverns and castles in the
trees made forts and houses
old parts assembled into
monsters and contraptions
go carts and rooster tails
taped echos of shrill boys
In another poem she described the "quiet slap of waves . . . the afterglow of sunset . . . and gentle balm of air and water" at Squam Lake, N.H., where she had summered since childhood. In the same poem she wrote of "a pain of unrecuperable loss" when she sold that family place in 1996.
Mrs. Howell moved from University City to Stapeley in the early 1990s.
She is survived by a son, Jon. Her other son, Peter, died in 1979.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at Tabernacle United Church, 3700 Chestnut St., where Mrs. Howell had been a member of the council and cochaired the congregational care committee.
Memorial donations may be made to the Tabernacle United Church Mission Committee, 3700 Chestnut St., Philadelphia 19014.