Cover photo for Howard Bethel's Obituary
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1939 Howard 2021

Howard Bethel

December 21, 1939 — September 14, 2021


Howard Ruble Bethel, Jr., 81, of Odessa, TX, went to be with his Lord and Savior on September 14, 2021 surrounded by his loving family in New Braunfels, Texas.

Visitation will be 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.  Monday, September 20, 2021 at Sunset Memorial Funeral Home, Odessa, Texas.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at Sunset Memorial Funeral Home Chapel with Reverend Dr. Jimmy Braswell officiating.   Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Howard was born at the Headlee Clinic in Odessa, Texas to Howard R. and Ida Bethel on December 21, 1939.  He attended Austin Elementary, Crockett Jr. High and Odessa High School, graduating in 1958.  He played high school football for legendary Coach Hayden Fry; their treasured friendship was lifelong.  During Coach Fry’s years at the University of Iowa, if Howard was in Des Moines for Principal Life business during football season, he had a pass on the Iowa sidelines.

Howard received his BA in 1963 from Austin College, Sherman, Texas.  He also served 2 years in the USMC Reserves.  After graduating from college, Howard returned to Odessa and began his outstanding career with the Bankers Life of Des Moines later becoming the Principal Financial Group. In 1987, Howard became the 2nd youngest agent in the company’s history to be inducted in Principal’s elite Hall of Fame.  Qualifications were based on his production and his business persistency as an agent. Howard continued to be a company leader throughout his 50+ year career; his reputation was impeccable throughout the insurance industry.

Howard married Mary Sue Baucum in March 1994.  They enjoyed golfing, traveling, and time spent with their small group church family.   Howard was a longtime member of the Odessa Association of Life Underwriters, serving in all chairs.  In 1979, he joined the Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang and in 1985, he was elected the gang boss. He loved the comradery of his fellow gang members and representing Odessa.  He and Mary Sue were active members of Westminster Presbyterian Church.  They also served in many capacities through CASA.

Howard was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Ida Bethel, and his beloved wife, Mary Sue who passed in April 2011.  Howard is survived by his children, Tasia M. Bethel, daughter, Ron O. Bethel, son, and Howard (Howk) R. Bethel, III, son, and his wife, Toy Bethel, his grandsons, Juston Robinson and Howard (Hagan) R. Bethel, IV, his granddaughters, Brittany Bethel and Courtney Bethel and his 4 great-grandchildren.  Howard is also survived by his sister, Judith Ann Walton, husband, Ron, their 3 children, Cindy, Ron, Jr. and Stephanie as well as their families.

Howard was a good citizen, a good provider, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend.  He served his profession well and his values were core.

Pallbearers will be Rich Kimmel, Jason Johns, and the Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang.

Instead of flowers, please honor Howard’s wishes for memorials to be made to St. Jude Hospital or your local animal shelter.  Howard’s family wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to Encompass Hospice who touched and cared for Howard during his illness.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Howard Bethel, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, September 20, 2021

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Sunset Memorial Funeral Home

, Odessa, TX 79762

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Sunset Memorial Funeral Home Chapel

6713 East Business 20, Odessa, TX 79762

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Interment following funeral service

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sunset Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home


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