Howard Arlen LaRue

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Howard LaRue

Howard Arlen LaRue died in his sleep on January 11, 2024 in Belfast, Maine, at the age of 94. Born on January 3, 1930 in Maud, Oklahoma, to Veloura Whitehorn and William Lee LaRue, he was the youngest of three siblings, each of whom lived into their mid-nineties. 

Howard joined the Navy as a young man, and was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii where he met and married his beloved Catherine “Kate” Barnes LaRue who providentially was in Hawaii teaching college courses and playing the organ at the church Howard attended. Their romance in that exotic setting was retold, and shared, and cherished throughout their lives together–married for 52 years, until Kate’s death in 2005. 

Howard served with the Navy from 1948 to 1964, enlisting as Seaman and moving up through ranks, serving initially in the Pacific Fleet, from the tropical waters of Hawaii and northwest to Japan. His Naval career enabled him to trek the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, after which he moved with Kate, and by this time, their two young daughters, Carrie and Alexandra, to Japan for two years where both Caleb and Monica were born. After returning stateside with their young family, Howard was assigned to Operation Deep Freeze, which sent him to the Southern Hemisphere, to New Zealand and Antarctica before returning to his family and moving to Norfolk, Virginia where he graduated from Naval Officers’ Candidate School in 1963. Howard next landed at the Pentagon, where he continued to serve with distinction until his grinding realization that he wanted to shift gears with his life’s direction and pursue his long calling to the ministry. 

He resigned his Naval commission to enter Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria in 1964, graduating magna cum laude in 1967, and was ordained priest in the Episcopal Church in 1968 while serving two small parishes in Kenbridge and Crewe, Virginia. Howard and his family moved to Greenwood, Virginia in 1969 where he remained throughout his ministry at both Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Holy Cross Church in Batesville. After serving these much beloved communities for 26 years, Howard and Kate retired from the ministry in 1995 and moved to the lovely, small, coastal community of Searsport, Maine, where they realized their mutual dream of opening a uniquely beautiful bookstore combined with a gallery of magnificent art objects from their travels. Their “escape”–Penobscot Books–still bears the iconic mark of Howard’s artistry, his love of books and photography, sculpture and architecture, and a strong nautical bent fostered throughout his early Naval years. Howard and Kate shared a deep appreciation for worldly cultures and religions, and enjoyed many extended travels together throughout their retirement, from which adventures they collected countless treasures and extraordinary art objects, both religious and secular, which added to the vast and diverse nature of the inventory in their bookstore. Their spot in Maine became a destination over the years for many friends–and family–from Greenwood, traveling some 850 miles northbound along the eastern seaboard, to rekindle long, devoted friendships and inspired bonds. Howard continued to be involved in faith ministries throughout his long life. 

Howard will be well remembered for his scholarly pursuits as an author and poet, a painter and photographer, for his broad appreciation for music, and for his deeply held Christian faith and influence. 

He was proud of the family’s French Huguenot heritage and documented this amongst his “infinity of memories” in his autobiographical literature which has helped preserve not only geneological information for the family, but demonstrates his well known and appreciated sense of humor. “Great Grandpa Howard” felt profoundly blessed by his joyful flock of little, great grandchildren whom he loved and utterly cherished. 

Howard is survived by three of his children, Alexandra Clarke (Chris), Caleb LaRue (Bet), and Monica Camfield (Steve); his 12 grandchildren, Grace Rickenberg (Chad), Jesse Gibson (Meaghan), Sarah Goode (Greg); Benjamin Davis (Tara), Reid Davis (Waverly); Kate Lamica (Chris), Shannon LaRue, Adrian LaRue, Lolly LaRue, Isaac LaRue; Brian Camfield (Rachel), and Metz Camfield (Rachel); and 15 great grandchildren, Sophie, Bella, and Aubrey; Anthony and Clara; Molly and Jack; Matilda and Rhodes; Callen and Eli; Barnes and Rosie; Shepard and Gracie. 

Howard was only fairly recently preceded in death by his sister, Colleen LaRue Godsy, and his brother, William “Bill” LaRue, Jr., both of Oklahoma; also predeceased by his beloved wife, Catherine “Kate” Barnes LaRue, and their firstborn daughter, Carrie Grace LaRue Davis. 

Howard’s children and their families wish to express their profoundly heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer Mitchell and her husband David, who assisted Howard in operating his bookstore business particularly in the years after Kate’s death. Jennifer and David’s collegial companionship eventually developed into the vital support in his aging years, enabling Howard to continue to live independently above his bookstore up until his final days of Maine’s winter. 

Memorial services will be held in Maine and Virginia: 

  • St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor, Maine; Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 11 a.m., with The Rev. James W. Nutter officiating. 
  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood, Virginia; Friday, April 12, 2024 at 11 a.m. with The Rev. John Taliaferro Thomas officiating; interment will follow in the churchyard, and then a reception in the Parish Hall. For further information about the Virginia service, please call the Emmanuel Episcopal Church office at (540) 456-6334. 

If anyone wishes to make a gift in remembrance of Howard, the family suggests a donation in the form of a check to Emmanuel Episcopal Church, P. O. Box 38, Greenwood, VA 22943, with “The Bread Fund” designated on the memo line. 

Condolences may be sent to the family c/o Monica LaRue Camfield, P. O. Box 595, Crozet, VA 22932 

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