Service Details


Thursday, June 13, 2019
5:00 to 8:00 pm
Hamilton's on Westown Parkway
3601 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa


Friday, June 14, 2019
10:00 am
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
7075 Ashworth Road
West Des Moines, Iowa


Friday, June 14, 2019
Glendale Cemetery
Des Moines, Iowa


Hamilton's on Westown Parkway
3601 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
(515) 224-0078

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West Des Moines

Mary Jean Howdle Mary Jean (Bellizzi) Howdle, 87, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, June 9, 2019, at her home at the Walnut Ridge Retirement Community in Clive, Iowa. She was a warm and loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend who always made time for anyone who needed her.

Mary Jean was born on July 7, 1931 to Ralph and Rose (Carzoli) Bellizzi in Des Moines, Iowa. A native south-sider and graduate of Lincoln High School, Mary Jean attended Drake University, where she majored in Speech and Communications and was a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority.

In 1954, she married Michael Cunningham, and they had two children, Tom and Lauri. After their marriage ended in 1967, Mary Jean began a twenty-two year career at Northwestern Bell Telephone (later US West). Her reputation was that if one needed something from the executive suite at Bell, you went to Mary Jean first because she got things done!

On August 4, 1979, she married Reed R. “Skip” Howdle. Combining their lives and families, they embarked on a successful forty year marriage that was characterized by love, travel, grandchildren, friends, and faith in God. Mary Jean and Skip were founding members of St. Francis of Assisi parish in West Des Moines. Mary Jean loved sports, especially football and basketball, and was an enthusiastic fan of the Dowling Catholic Maroons, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Denver Broncos (especially with Peyton Manning) and the NBA in general. Mary Jean enjoyed traveling with Skip, especially to the Hawkeyes’ bowl games. Under Skip’s expert tutelage, Mary Jean took up golf and learned to love the game, particularly during the winter months they shared together over many years in Naples, FL.

Most of all, Mary Jean was a woman of faith who loved her Savior Jesus Christ and firmly believed that “God helps those who help themselves,” a phrase she used often and lived daily. Mary Jean lived for her family and friends. She took tremendous joy in spending time with those she loved, and making certain everything was “just right” for her husband, kids and grandkids – especially at the holidays. She was an amazing cook, and was never happier than when her family and friends were together celebrating and sharing a meal.

Mary Jean is survived by her husband, Skip Howdle, of Clive; two children, Tom (Becky) Cunningham of West Des Moines, and Lauri (Clay) Hatcher, of Kansas City, Kansas; two step-children, David (Deb) Howdle of Altoona, and Dee (Larry) Zamora, of West Hills, California; her sister, Diane (Tom) Stull, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; her sister-in-law, Judy Bellizzi of Bellevue, Nebraska; seven grandchildren and seven step-grandchildren; five step-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. She is preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Rose Bellizzi, and her brother, Nick Bellizzi.

The family will greet friends on Thursday, June 13, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa. A rosary will be prayed beginning at 7:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held on Friday, June 14, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 7075 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines, Iowa.

The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Dowling Catholic High School, or the Food Bank of Central Iowa, one of Mary Jean’s favorite charities.

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