Funeral service to be held Saturday for Campobello whale rescuer


Campobello – A funeral service in celebration of the life of Joe Howlett will be held Saturday at 2 p.m., at Wilsons Beach United Baptist Church.

Howlett, 59, a fisherman, and founding member of the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, was killed Monday during a whale rescue operation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A whale was successfully freed from entanglement in fishing nets, the second such rescue in the area in five days performed by Howlett, and the crew of the Shelagh I.

There is no visitation, and the family is asking in lieu of flowers, for people to share random acts of kindness. Donations can also be made to the Wilsons Beach Baptist Church Fund or the Edith Lank Camp.

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Residents on the island of Campobello are mourning Howlett’s death.
Fellow fisherman, and friend, Curtis Malloch is devastated by the loss of his friend.

“He died doing what he loved,” said Malloch. “He loved to rescue whales. Being on the water was his life. Joe was doing what he loved when he died.”
Malloch said he last saw Howlett about two weeks ago on Campobello, in the parking lot of the Co-Op store.

“What separates a friend from a real good friend is that you can go for months without talking, and when you do meet up you can talk for a hour – go right back to that earlier conversation.”

Malloch said Howlett had just finished playing golf with his son, Tyler, when they met and talked. He said Howlett’s family meant the world to him.

“We talked about the 30 years of marriage to his wife, we talked about important things – family and friendship, and, I don’t care who knows it, we talked about God. Joe loved God.”
Malloch said Howlett was the “stick man” on the whale rescue operations. He used sticks with blades to cut the ropes and nets binding the whales.

“He said when he rescued a whale, it was like a feeling you’d never know,” said Malloch.
“My heart is heavy, and I’m a little teary-eyed. The last words we said to each other were ‘love ya, man’.

“He was a great guy, a super, duper guy. He is going to be missed. He was a big piece of this island. He came here from Nova Scotia. Everybody knew Joe; everybody loved Joe.”
Malloch said he’s happy he had a chance to have that last conversation with Howlett.

“A lot of people go out of this world without you having had the chance to say goodbye or ‘I love you’. I had that chance with Joe. Tell your loved ones you love them,” urged Malloch.

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Kathy Bockus
Journalist Kathy Bockus is based in St. Stephen and has worked for The Saint Croix Courier as a general news reporter and feature writer for the past 15 years. She began her lengthy newspaper career in 1974 with a daily in Saint John. Bockus says she always jokes being a reporter is a licence to be nosey, but firmly believes that everyone has a story to tell. She can be contacted at 321-0759.