The sweetest man I ever knew. Handsome, strong, open. He looked you always straight in the eye, perhaps there may have always been an element of lip reading. For all that though he took you in, he engaged in a way that is uncommon. His generous spirit enveloped you like a warm handshake, firm and true.
He was first and foremost a father and family man who adored his wife and brood with extraordinary devotion, always steady, never taken aback, always rocklike as the foundation of the Williams fold.
Behind those blue eyes, there shone a humour, generous and quick. A smile that dazzled the ladies and made the boys join in on the many jokes. His sonorous baritone so boisterous so full of life, he was above all a happy man. “Yes, Yes.. “ he always enjoined before launching into one of his many ribald songs – so often, who could forget his rendition of “side by side”.
He didn’t have it all his own way by any means, except in the lifelong partner he found in Nina. Nina, an example to us all of plain old fashioned love. Love that endures still, love that laboured without loss, love that stood against the cruellest of fortune. Love that makes us weep with admiration.
Love that only a man like Howel could inspire.
As a young man he was a prodigious sportsman. A record holder to this day as a holder of most 1sr XI caps.at Llandovery, a scrum half of brilliant alacrity, a brilliant prospect so cruelly deprived by misfortune in his early twenties. A by-product was his loss of hearing that affected him for the rest of his life. Not that many of us noticed, not that he ever complained or moaned about what might have been. That, in some ways, was the measure of the man. He was a splendid and very competitive Bridge player. Partnering him was not for light weight intellects. His athleticism, though, stayed with him through his seventies when he handed out many a thrashing to his golfing chums.
Nor did the setbacks of his earlier years diminish his zest for life: A career from London to Australia, adventures galore, but his greatest achievement lives on in his children, Jane, Sarah, David. All a wonderful testimony to their lovely Dad. Now great husbands, wives and parents carrying the legacy of gentleness and love that was Howel.
Pembrokeshire was always his home, and although in some ways his return was not entirely of his volition, he loved the place with a passion. From his beloved Cwm yr Eglwys to the sweeping vista over Parrog Beach, from the Prescelli Mountains to the rolling Irish Sea. It is the place of his youth, where he swam and ran and felt the wind in his hair. It is where Howel belongs, for ever.