Celebrating the life of . . . . . . .Zeola Watts Howard




Sunrise: April 27, 1937 Sunset: March 17, 2022



Funeral Service: Friday, March 25, 2022 11:00 am

St. Joseph CME Church 510 W. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC


Her Legacy

Mrs. Zeola Watts Howard (nee Watts), beloved wife, mother, and grandmother departed this life peacefully on Thursday March 17, 2022 at the age of 84.


Mrs. Howard was born to the late Lonnie Lee Watts, Sr., and Callie Lee Watts (nee Wesson) on April 27, 1937 in McCaskill, AR. She graduated from Blevins High School in Blevins, AR and subsequently obtained her B.A. degree in early childhood education from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR. It was at Philander Smith that she met and eventually married Mr. James N. Howard, Sr. her husband of 57 years. Five children were born to this union and the family lived in Little Rock AR, Phoenix AZ, Pampa TX, Baltimore MD, Syracuse NY, Rocky Mount NC, and Graham NC.


With a fervent passion for helping and educating children, she went on to teach in various school districts in Baltimore MD, Syracuse NY, and Rocky Mount NC until the early 1990's. Every weekend, Mrs. Howard was a faithful Sunday School teacher, serving tirelessly as First Lady alongside her husband, Reverend Howard during his various pastorates with the CME church, including St. Joseph's CME Church and Alston Grove Congregational Church in Chapel Hill NC.


Mrs. Howard had a deep, abiding faith in God and served with her time, talents, and gifts. At every church, she sought to uplift, encourage, and enrich children's and young adult ministries by producing plays, holiday speeches, and performances with the Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF), all while teaching children about God’s word, Godliness, and goodness. Her five children were often the "little seedlings" for new and/or struggling youth programs in the churches where she served.


Zeola's greatest joy in life was caring for and doting on her family and friends. She was an excellent cook and a consummate hostess, always trying new dishes. Any guest in her home was warmly welcomed, fed delicious food, and treated like royalty. She just knew how to make you feel at home. She also loved to travel, visit friends, and discuss national news and current events. She had a love of clothes and was always very fashionable and stylish. Zeola’s other passion was decorating for and celebrating Christmas -it was her favorite holiday and she truly enjoyed gift giving. Her collection of beautiful Christmas decorations was stunning, from beautiful mantel pieces to a spinning musical tree!


She is survived by her five children, Paulia R. Donalson (Syracuse NY), James N. Howard, Jr. (Graham NC), Karen S. Howard (Boone NC), Zena K. Howard (Cary NC), and Vanessa D. Howard (Charlotte NC) and three grandchildren, Jasmine R. Donalson (Syracuse NY), Alonzo M. Donalson (Cary NC) and Frank Daniel Brown II (Daniel) (Fort Drum Army base, Jefferson County NY).


Her surviving extended family include her brothers Lonnie Watts, Jr. (Emma) of Fort Smith AR, Emanuel Watts (Debra) of Chicago IL, and Houston Watts (Peggy) of Chicago IL and her sister Lucille Troop of Los Angeles CA. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Garleon Watts, Theron Watts (Elvira), and Clovis Watts (Ruth), and her sister, Clovus Watts.




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