Christian Lee Howerton
Jan. 8, 1974 – Nov. 22, 2019
Howerton, Christian Lee, cherished son of Mary Lou P. H. Sommardahl and Everett B. (Ben) Howerton Jr., lost his decades-long struggle with the demons of addiction on Friday, November 22, 2019.
Chris was born January 8, 1974 in Charlottesville, Virginia and moved with his family to Midlothian as a toddler. He attended Midlothian High School and graduated from Open High School in Richmond. He attended John Tyler Community College and Lynchburg College, never fully embracing academia but always excelling in the areas of music and creative writing. He won a poetry prize at John Tyler. He played piano as a youth and later soothed his soul through the guitar. Music was Chris’s salvation—his “church,” as he called it. He loved all kinds of music, but his special love throughout his life was the Grateful Dead. Their music, especially the lyrics, touched him as no other; it soothed him in times of frustration or hopelessness and truly brought him sheer joy at other times. He loved to dance and get lost in the songs; he simply could not survive without his music. Chris was a kind and gentle soul, not only a talented musician but also a gifted poet, and a believer in “cosmic connections.” His written words were truly insightful, and he used them to express his joy and his sorrow, his hopes and his anguish, as well as the pure love he held for his family and friends, who were consistently impressed and even amazed at his “way with words.” He generously shared his talent by helping friends to write letters or poems to their own loved ones. Chris established a business called Nodwear, through which he tried to share his passions about music and life with original printed designs and special wording on clothing that he sold at concerts around the country. He was at his happiest while doing this, but his demons relentlessly intruded on his dream.
In addition to his parents, Christian is survived by his loving brother Everett (Ben) Howerton III of Atlanta; his stepfather Charles Sommardahl Sr. of Richmond; his and his father’s special friend, Brenda (Twiggy) Munford; his beloved nieces, Brooke, Megan, and Rachel Howerton of Atlanta, as well as their younger brother Mehrik McCurley; his aunts, Betty Bibb, Virginia Watson, Harriett Edmunds (Prescott), and Barbara Saunders, all of Lynchburg; his uncle Allan Howerton (Rebecca) of Lynchburg; his stepbrothers, Charles (Camp) Sommardahl (Laurie) of Lynchburg, David Sommardahl (Michelle) of Midlothian, and Brian Sommardahl (Ashley) of Richmond, as well as their children; and a host of cousins. Chris was predeceased by his grandparents, Elizabeth and Meredith Plunkett and Lois and Everett Howerton, all of Lynchburg, as well as his maternal uncles, Meredith, Warren, Frank, and Stephen Plunkett. Chris loved children, delighting particularly in the antics and activities of his nieces.
His family and friends are heartbroken that he suffered so long without achieving his dream of having children of his own. He spoke of his Grateful Dead Family and often signed his Facebook posts “Forever Family, Forever Grateful.” A celebration of Chris’s life will be held at Affinity Funeral Service (2720 Enterprise Pkwy, Richmond, Virginia) at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, followed by visitation with the family until 5 p.m. His friends are encouraged to feel free to wear their Grateful Dead or similar clothing. A graveside service for interment of Chris’s ashes will take place at Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday, December 14, at 2 p.m. Friends unable to attend the Richmond celebration are welcome to join the Lynchburg activities instead.
If you would like to remember Christian with a memorial contribution, the family requests that you please consider donation to an addiction recovery organization of your choice.
Dear Mary Lou and Ben,
This is so heartbreaking! You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
Dear Mary Lou,
My heart is breaking for you and your family. I truly had no idea that something like this was impacting your family. My words are not adequate to express my sorrow. May God give you comfort and peace during this difficult time and wrap you in His love.
With our sincere condolences on your loss…
My dear MaryLou, I have witnessed my son struggle with same demons, and I know the tortured soul all too well. May God bless you, and all of your family.
My thoughts and prayers are w Chris and his whole family. My heart is heavy thinking of you Chris. I will always hold on to the time I had to spend w you. I will never forget u Chris . Until we meet again my friend . Until then u rest my friend .
Extremely sorry to hear this. I knew Chris for many years and he was a good person and always kind to me. I will pray for your family.
While I only met Christian this year, I quickly became fond on him. While he helped me work at Afton UMC this summer in Ophelia, he confided to me the demons he was battling. We painted and trimmed bushes while chatting and I became aware of his love of dancing, the Grateful Dead and his poetry. He amazed me while reciting two of his poems. So much so that that I took him to the local bank and he recited one poem for the ladies there. They loved it. I am so sorry for your loss. I cherish my time with Christian.
My heart breaks. As children when Mom would say we are going to Aunt Deana’s I would get so excited.
Ben,Chris my sister and I would have the best time playing.
The sorrow is deep. His creative artwork and kind gentle soul will live forever.
To the family and all that knew him, my deepest sympathy. Will love him forever!
Love Gwen Watson
Mary Lou, there are no adequate words to express my sadness for your loss. I’m thinking of all the family and sending you my loving thoughts
Dearest Deana, my heart goes out you and the family. May You feel Gods arms wrapped around you during this time to comfort you and give you peace. Chris was a sweet gentle soul with a smile that was contagious. I am so glad you brought Chris with you to Lynchburg this Summer to visit. He gives the best hugs and I really enjoyed spending time with my sweet sweet Chris. I will forever hold on tight to that last visit.
With much Love and deepest sympathy to you all,
Mary Lou and Ben, I am unbelievably saddened to hear of Chris’s passing. I pray you both find peace and comfort knowing that awesome child you brought into this world was a positive, loving soul to those who knew him. I am lucky to have known him. “Fare the well, fare the well, I love you more than words can tell. Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul”
Mary Lou – Sorry that your son was taken from his family at such a early age. May your memories of him and God’s blessings give you comfort as you and your family heal from your loss.
Desr Mary Lou, I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept my sincere sympathy! What a handsome young man! While he struggled in life he is new at peace. I pray for yours and your family’s peace and comfort at this very difficult time. Fondly, Carole Davis
Mary Lou and family, I am so very sorry for the loss of the beautiful soul that was your son, Chris. I never had the privilege of meeting him, but I know he held your heart. I’m so saddened that he wasn’t able to come out of this battle as the victor. You did all you could to help him.
Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers for comfort and peace at this very difficult time.
My condolences to the family. He touched lives that will forever remember him.
Our heartfelt condolences on your loss. Peace be with you and yours. God holds a special place in his heart for artists.
My deepest sympathy goes out to Christian’s family. How difficult it must be to have lost such a beautiful person. I got to know Christian for the past year and a half in treatment and then working with him. He did an incredible job in everything he did, he went above and beyond. He had this way of lifting you up and making you feel good, always. Christian’s presence brought people together. He would do anything for anyone… He was a rare breed: kind, big hearted, genuine and true. His amazing character was passionate, caring, and true to his values. I am so grateful to have known him, he will be greatly missed.
Chris, I have vivid memories of you as a toddler … a beautiful, blond-headed little boy, racing into my embrace. I hold dear those remembrances of you … a child of sweet innocence who grew into a gentle young man. How I wish that you could have escaped life’s perils. Rest in peace, my cherished godson. You will remain forever more in my heart … I love you.
Ben and family, My sincere condolences for your loss. A special light is now dim. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. With heartfelt sympathy, Byrd Latham
My heart broke when I read Chris’ obituary. I keep you in my heart and your family in my thoughts.
Love and sympathy,
Betty (Moser) Lambdin
Dear Ben and Mary Lou,
You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. I can’t imagine the pain and sorrow that you are experiencing with the loss of Chris.
With my deepest sympathy to you and your family,
To all Chris’s family and loved ones,
I am so very sorry for your loss and will have you all in my prayers as well as him. I’ve known Chris only for the last year and a half but with the impact he had on my life in that short time it feels like we were friends for a life time. We started treatment together all the way back in June of 18, from there we went through every step of the process together and he was my right hand man. We lived together, worked together, and attempted to help each other through this difficult journey of recovery. He was by far the most alive person I’ve ever encountered and even in his darkest times he seemed to exude positivity and love. He was so passionate and enthusiastic for all the things most people take for granted. Wether it be music, poetry, or goofy dancing he was always doing or talking about something that he loved. Including his family, especially his parents. It pains me that he is gone especially because I know he wanted to overcome his demons more than anything and no matter how hard it got he always kept trying. He was a great help and inspiration to me and his spirit and energy will continue to motivate and encourage me in my journey. Know that you are loved and supported in this difficult time and you are not alone. Thank you for blessing the earth with such a beautiful and positive force and may you feel his presence in your darkest moments. My continued condolences.
Ben/Twiggy and family, I am deeply saddened by Chris’ departure. I know he was loved and adored by those who knew him. Please accept my prayers of sympathy and understanding at this time. With love, Arthur M. Goggin
Mary Lou & Ben, I am crushed to have learned of Howie’s passing. I feared that this day would come, but thought that maybe he would be spared because he was so infectious. Too many ppl needed him here in order to smile. I cannot imagine the pain his death has caused all of your family. I loved him very much. I know so many other people did too. He was just so easy to love. Even though I’m not extremely religious, I have to believe he’s with all of his friends up there, maybe even with Jerry, dancing his heart out. I mean if anyone were to do it, it would be Howie.