Howell C. Mette, founding partner of prominent Harrisburg law firm Mette, Evans and Woodside, died peacefully surrounded by his children, on January 11, 2020, two years to the day after the death of his beloved wife and high school sweetheart Elizabeth Vosburgh Mette, and just shy of his 92nd birthday. Howell was born February 8, 1928 to Joseph C. and Mary Schoener Mette of Shamokin, PA. He played in the orchestra and marching band both for Shamokin High School and for Dickinson College, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa for academic excellence and leadership. He received his Bachelor of Laws from Dickinson Law School, and his Master of Laws with a Specialty in Taxation from New York University School of Law. A tax specialty was unusual in 1952; Howell was hired immediately out of NYU to teach tax law at Dickinson, and to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the Pennsylvania Department of Justice under Attorney General Robert E. Woodside. After authoring an opinion that a proposed graduated income tax was unconstitutional, Howell drafted and helped to implement the 1953 PA Sales Tax Act. A humorous account of his work on that groundbreaking tax code was featured in the January 23, 1954 “Talk of the Town” column in the New Yorker.
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In 1956, Mr. Mette went into private practice with Harrisburg firm Rhoads, Sinon and Reader. In 1969, Howell and others founded what is now the firm Mette, Evans and Woodside, where he was still active 50 years later at the time of his death. He also served for 50 years, till 2002, as an adjunct professor at Dickinson Law School, now part of Pennsylvania State University. In 1985, Dickinson honored him with a Doctor of Laws Degree, and in 1989, with the Edward C. First Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award. Many attorneys and judges both formerly and currently active in the Harrisburg area have been Howell’s students, colleagues, and friends.
Howell had served as the Dauphin County Bar Association President, in various positions for the Pennsylvania Bar Association, as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and as an original member of the Dauphin County Tax Group. He was included in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Trusts and Estates in 2020, and every year since 1993. Widely admired and trusted for his legal knowledge and advice, Howell was one of the six founders of Commerce Bank of Pennsylvania in 1985. He served as Board Member and Legal Counsel through its transition to Metro Bank, and up until its sale to First National Bank in 2015. He also very much enjoyed his role as a Director at Woolrich Woolen Mills for 30 years, beginning in 1981.
Howell believed in service to his community and generously donated his time and skills to a variety of causes and organizations, including Harrisburg Area Community College, the Homeland Center, Holy Spirit Health System, and Camp Hill High School. He also raised money to move the Camp Hill Public Library out of the basement of Camp Hill High School and into its own building on 31st street in 1967, and then in 2001 to fund the magnificent Cleve J. Fredricksen Library on 19th street in Camp Hill.
Howell loved classical music all his life, enjoyed his hundreds of recordings, and traveled as often as possible to New York to attend the Metropolitan Opera where he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He was a fine amateur photographer, and in the old days of film cameras, developed and printed his own images. He also enjoyed cooking and was a devoted Penn State football fan.
He is survived and mourned by his children Mary Lucinda of Atlanta, Nancy Elizabeth of Los Angeles, Daniel Joseph of Lords Valley, and Howell William Mette, of New york City, sons-in-law Ernie Baker and Barnet Kellman, and five grandchildren, Kate, Eliza and Michael Kellman, and Halle and Danny Mette.
A memorial service for Mr. Mette will be held at Camp Hill Presbyterian Church, 101 N. 23rd Street, on January 25, at 11:00 AM. A reception will be held in Fellowship Hall after the service. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Mette’s name to Camp Hill Presbyterian Church or to Homeland Center of Harrisburg.
The family expresses their love and gratitude to those who helped Mr. Mette over the past few years, including Joan Brothers, Virginia Stussy, Tawana Fleming, Rhonda Hollman, Sommer Garber, Judy Lyter, Ken Sober, and Bob Foster