Howard Dwayne Claassen was born August 3, 1929, to Aron N and Helen (Wiebe) Claassen, in Beatrice, Nebraska. He was the third of six children, and died March 13, 2019, in Albany, Oregon.
Howard’s growing up years were spent as an active participant in the daily and seasonal routine on the family farm near Beatrice, Nebraska. As a child, he attended a one-room country school through eighth grade and graduated from Beatrice High School. After graduating high school and earning a scholarship, he attended one year at the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture. Following this, he spent two years serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pennsylvania. He then attended Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas, and graduated from Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas. He later earned his master’s degree in education from Oregon State University. Howard was a much-loved middle school teacher in the Greater Albany Public Schools for more than 30 years.
Howard married Faye Ellen Birky in Albany, Oregon, on June 23, 1959. Howard and Faye joyously welcomed daughter Janelle into their lives. Howard, Faye, and Janelle enjoyed spending summer months traveling in many US states and also throughout Canada. He and Faye took a memorable trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Howard’s faith was lived out in his daily life in many ways. He studied the Bible regularly. He demonstrated his faith in church and community. He actively participated and served in various positions in his church congregation, Albany Mennonite Church. He was a good listener and responsive to the needs of others. He was quietly affirming and thoughtful. He often had a calming effect in conversations.
Howard had a love for music. He grew up singing four-part harmony in church and for many years sang baritone in men’s quartets and choirs. Many would not know that he could yodel and occasionally played the harmonica.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents, brother Alfred and sister Irene. Howard is survived by his wife Faye, daughter Janelle Baugh (David), brother Richard Claassen (Mary), and sisters Lois Claassen Unruh (Paul) and Geraldine Major.
Howard was a devoted, faithful, and much-loved husband and father and will be greatly missed by many people. A celebration of life is planned for Saturday, March 16, 2:00 pm, at Albany Mennonite Church.