Sheldon Howe, 72; Devoted life to autistic children

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Sheldon Tower Howe, 72, a resident of Chebeague Island for the past two years, and then of Brunswick, died Dec. 10 in Mid-Coast Hospital following a severe stroke.

Howe was born March 8, 1943, in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest child of Dr. Sarah Tower and Dr. Howard Howe, both research physicians at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He attended St. Paul’s School for Boys outside Baltimore, and went to Goddard College in Vermont.

Howe’s life revolved around two major commitments: to the education of autistic children and to God and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education before joining the staff at Linwood Center, a school in Maryland for severely disabled autistic children. He focused on art as a way of reaching and inspiring children, and worked at Linwood for 30 years.

Howe became a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the 1970s, attending several churches in Baltimore, Portland and Brunswick. He was a devoted member, volunteering for community service and becoming involved in evangelical ministry. Howe was always motivated by God to love and serve other people. The church’s dietary and other rules provided a useful structure for his daily life.

Several years after he retired from Linwood Howe moved to Chebeague Island to live with his sister, Beth Howe, and her husband, Mac Passano. He lived with them for most of a year and then moved to Skolfield House assisted living in Brunswick. He became a member of the Spindleworks artists’ cooperative, also in Brunswick, which welcomed him warmly. This revived his interest in drawing and painting. As a young man he was a gifted artist with work in a juried museum show when he was a teenager. Howe also always loved music, both religious and classical. He played the clavichord, the piano and the recorder.

He was a friendly, outgoing and generous person, always concerned about others and wanting to help however he could. People often described Howe as “sweet,” not in a saccharine way, but as a gentle, kind, accepting and good man. He shared his love for music and art as well as his sincere faith in God.

He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law.

He was buried in the Chebeague Island Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at the Brunswick Seventh Day Adventist Church in January.