Rachel Clark Braswell, age 88, died Monday, June 25 at her home. Visitation will be held on Thursday, June 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Pryor-Roden Funeral Home and services will be held on Friday, June 29 at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Paris. Interment to follow at Evergreen Cemetery.
Rachel was preceded in death by her parents, Buck Morrison Clark and Louise Hill Clark, her first husband, Henry G. Braswell, her second husband, John M. Howison, her sister, Donna Johnson, and cousin Margaret Jane Lyday.
Rachel is survived by her daughters Lauren Braswell (Chris Fondell) and Amy Burrows (Rob Robertson), as well as her step-children Martha Howison, Steve Howison (Nancy), and John Howison (Sheila). She is also survived by beloved grandchildren Dayna Rachel Fondell, William Henry Fondell, Jill Suzanne Nutt (Josh), Shannon Braswell Burrows, and former son-in-law, Steve Burrows. In addition, she leaves behind niece Lea Dunn (Jeff), and nephews Byron Johnson (Staci), and Richard Johnson (Patricia), as well as great nieces and nephews, cousins, and dear friends. She Is also survived by a most adored dog, Willy Nelson Mandela.
Rachel was born in 1930 in the family’s home in Blossom, Texas. She attended Blossom schools, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class. Rachel loved growing up in Blossom and relished telling stories of the adventures she had with her sister, cousins, and Blossom friends as they created their own fun during hot Texas summers.
Rachel attended Paris Junior College (PJC) where she met Henry Braswell. Rachel then attended and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin. At UT, her involvement with the University YWCA and the University Baptist Church inspired her to work for civil rights for all, and from 1950 until her last days she was an advocate for equal justice and equal opportunity, especially educational opportunity, for all of God’s children. As a working mother, she later completed two Masters degrees from what is now Texas A & M at Commerce.
Rachel and Henry married on Nov. 23, 1953, and lived most of their married life in Paris, with the exception of four years in Austin, Texas. Rachel taught high school and eighth grade prior to taking time from her career to raise her daughters. After a 10 year hiatus, she returned to work with the Paris Independent School District (PISD), teaching fourth grade and special programs for homebound students and students who were pregnant. After earning her Masters degrees, Rachel worked as a special education counselor, eventually becoming the director of special education services for PISD. Through these years she was also an active leader in the Texas State Teachers Association. Working in special education was a true calling for Rachel. She was committed to providing each child with the best education possible. She loved working with her PISD students and colleagues. She retired in 1991 to care for Henry during his battle with cancer until his death in 1992.
In 1997 Rachel married John Howison of Bogata. John and Rachel enjoyed traveling, spending time with family and friends, and participating in activities in both Paris and Bogata.
In addition to being a wonderful mother, supportive grandmother, and dedicated educational professional, Rachel maintained an active life in the community. At various points in her life she was very engaged with the Paris Modern Music Club, the Paris YWCA, the United Way, the First United Methodist Church, the NAACP, the Lamar County Democratic Party, the Paris Education Foundation, Red River Valley Council for the Aid of Persons with Mental Problems, Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Authority of the City of Pairs, and the PJC Alumni Association. She was also deeply honored to serve as a member of the PJC Board of Regents and to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus of PJC.
Family, friends, and colleagues have all been blessed by Rachel’s radiant smile, generous nature, and unfailing hope for all. Even as disease impaired her sharp and curious mind, she maintained her positive and loving nature.
The entire family is very grateful for the care provided by Martha Howison who made it possible for both John and Rachel to remain in their home until the end of their days on earth. We are also very appreciative of the special care provided by Christi Bruce over the past year and for the more recent assistance of Gail Turner, both of On-Call Eldercare. Special thanks are due to Summit Hospice Services for their attentive and supportive care in the last weeks of Rachel’s life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to either Paris Education Foundation-Braswell Scholarship at 2255 South Collegiate (PHS), P. O. Box 356, Paris, Tx 75461 or the PJC Memorial Foundation –Braswell Scholarship at 2400 Clarksville St., Paris, Tx 75460 are suggested.