If people are measured by how many folks come their funerals, Howard and Joy Straughan’s memorial service in Heathsville Saturday showed them to be giants in the esteem of those who knew them. Just before the scheduled starting time for the service, St. Stephens Episcopal Church’s rector, Lucia Lloyd, asked everybody to “squeeze in” so more people could fit in the church’s packed pews.
Howard and Joy had passed away in Florida between Memorial Day and June 18, but people in the Northern Neck wanted a chance to honor them and the local service was arranged. Howard was born in Heathsville and the couple retired to Kilmarnock in 1990 and were active in a broad array of civic endeavors including Howard’s service on the Kilmarnock Town Council.
The memorial service followed the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer with the Staughan’s sons, Sam and Randolph, reading passages from the Book of Wisdom and from the Second letter to the Corinthians.
The Rev. David May of Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock read the Gospel lesson and provided a homily. In the homily, May had the congregation at least grinning and some actually laughing as he recalled Howard’s soliciting his vote in the town council election. He was quiet, but determined, demonstrating what May called his “restraint and composure of spirit.”
After the service, the crowd gathered in the Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern transportation building for a reception. Plans for the reception went a bit awry when one of the Starughan sons had to admit he’d forgotten the projector with which to play a slide show of the Straughans. The other son, however, had it on a laptop and was able to show it to the guests.
Ellen Hollows, former executive director of the hotel/tavern, announced that the Tavern Board had voted Howard a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his deep commitment and service to the hotel/tavern. Hollows was overcome during her remarks but collected herself and finished them. Her emotions mirrored those of others in attendance.