We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Crawford Funeral Home
On a beautiful spring day, our beloved mother, Lillian, died peacefully at the Episcopal Church Home, after a brief illness, surrounded by her daughters and just shy of her 100th birthday. Predeceased by her husband Jay W. Howk (2002, after 52 years of marriage), her parents Frank and Lillian (Herr) Von Buren, Jr., brothers Wilton (Dorothy) and Franklyn (Shirley) Von Buren, special cousin/honorary sister Dorothy Goodrich, niece Lucille Howk, and friend Jean Cuvelier.
Survived by daughters, Cynthia Howk, Heather (Fred) Howk King and son Neil (Susan Larsen) Howk and grandchildren Forrest (Samantha) Howk of Madison, WI and Sophie Howk of Driggs, ID. Surviving friends and family include three generations of nieces, nephews, and Fluri/Mittelholzer cousins in Switzerland.
A life-long Rochester resident, Lillian was the youngest of three children. She was born at 8:20 a.m. at 19 Leo Street, her parents’ home. She was named “Lillian” after her mother and “Caroline” after her mother’s favorite sister. She shared the same birthday as her eldest brother, Wilton, who, announced to the neighbors, “I got a baby sister for my 12th birthday!”
Located off Joseph Avenue, the neighborhood was a close-knit community whose residents were of German, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian, Russian, and Syrian heritage. Lillian’s father, his parents and siblings came to Rochester from Neuchatel, Switzerland in the late 1880s. Leo Street was highlighted by front porches and many children, who were each other’s playmates, often seen trouping off to Saturday movie matinees at the Sun Theater, ice skating at Carter Street Recreation Center, or taking a streetcar to Charlotte, for a swim in the lake. Members of the Von Buren, Schwartz, Rosen, and Kraus families - all Leo Street residents - continue to stay in touch, today.
Lillian attended School #22 and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1940. After several years in the business world, including a year in Los Angeles, she attained her long-sought goal of attending nursing school. She graduated from the Rochester School of Practical Nursing in 1946, becoming one of the first Licensed Practical Nurses to join the staff of the Visiting Nurse Service, where she worked until 1951. Through the years, she kept in touch with her nursing school instructors.
In 1950, she married Jay Howk, to whom she was introduced at her cousin’s 1947 wedding, where they left the reception and went to a movie: their first date! With marriage and the arrival of three children, Lillian took a “sabbatical” from nursing, to which she returned in 1957, with a 26-year tenure at the Beechwood Nursing Home. Her dedication to nursing inspired her daughter, Heather to become a Registered Nurse, with a career at Rochester General Hospital.
The Howk family's household included Lillian’s mother whose many stories about growing up in the late 19th-century fascinated her grandchildren. The family historian for her generation, Grandma Von Buren passed on that interest to her daughter, Lillian, whose memory for people, events and visual details was exceptional. In turn, Lillian passed the role of family historian to her daughter, Cynthia.
Lillian’s wide-ranging interests included crocheting, gardening, reading, family gatherings, and the daily “Jumble” column. Lillian made a terrific lemon meringue pie and sewed much of her daughters’ clothing. Decades of scenic drives in the region included visits to her cousins’ Steuben County farm. A succession of Poodles and Scottish Terriers were beloved companions. Lillian had a special interest in carpentry and architecture, particularly barns, one of which she’d hoped to restore as a residence. She designed the addition to her house, as well as a new garage. A frequent customer at local lumber yards, Lillian built furniture, storage units and a cherry cradle for her grandchildren.
Lillian was a life-long learner, who especially enjoyed public television. She encouraged her children to pursue their interests in music, preservation, conservation education, and nursing. As an adult, she learned to swim and horseback ride, studied German and piano, transcribed Braille and took her first camping trip. Into her 90s, she enjoyed art classes and gentle yoga at Oasis. Joey B’s, Park Ave. Pub, and the American Hotel were favorite restaurants. Travel included visits to historic East coast communities, National Parks in the west, and two memorable visits to Switzerland, to meet her cousins, with whom she’d corresponded since the 1930s.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Episcopal Church Home, as well as Rochester Regional Health Hospice for the compassionate care they provided Mom.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to Meals on Wheels would be greatly appreciated: 2180 Empire Blvd., Webster 14580. A memorial service and interment will take place on Monday, May 23, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. at the All-Seasons Chapel in White Haven Memorial Park. Due to Covid, masks will be required for all attendees.