Howell fits working polls into busy retirement



David Howell recalls going with his grandmother to vote at the Green Hills Women’s Club Building on the corner of South Greenhill Rd and Lebanon Road when he was a child. That was when Old Hickory Lake was just beginning to rise and the population of West Wilson County was a small fraction of what it has become. Voting has always been important to Howell. As an adult, he became part of the elections in Wilson County serving as a poll official for many years.

David Howell’s family has a long history in Wilson County. Ancestors began moving to the county as early as 1790 and buying land grants. David and Barbara Howell live on the farm that his family first purchased in 1809. Originally, the site was sought after for the rich bottom land along the creek. Today the fields that were planted in corn for over a century are covered with the waters of Old Hickory Lake. Several years ago, the Howell’s farm was designated a Century Farm, a distinction given to farms remaining in a family for over 100 years.

Howell was born at the old St. Thomas hospital in Nashville. The day before he was brought home from the hospital was the day electricity was first turned on at the farm. His father was an electrical engineer and a World War II veteran. His engineering career allowed the family to move from Tennessee to Missouri to South Carolina and finally back to Wilson County. Howell graduated from Mount Juliet High School in 1951 with 50 other seniors. He went on to the University of Tennessee to earn a degree in engineering. After college and a two year stint in the US Army as an engineer at Rock Island Arsenal in Iowa, Howell began a 37 year career with Bell South back home in Tennessee.

David and Barbara wanted their three daughters to be reared in Wilson County on the family farm. They remodeled a saddlebag style log home that was original to the farm. A saddlebag log home is two log buildings with a single roof that share a fireplace in the center. What started out to be a short term stay in a renovated log house soon became their home for 27 years. They added on to the house David’s father built on the farm in the 1950s and are living there now.

Howell retired in 2006 and has been pursuing his many interests and hobbies since. They have traveled a dozen times to England visiting different parts of the country and focusing on a new theme each trip. Their visits have been to see estates, gardens, famous historical sites, churches and the cities throughout the UK. Staying in cottages and meeting the local people has enriched their travels and appreciation for the country greatly.

The Howells have been members of First Presbyterian Church in Lebanon for the past 30 years. His church involvement and engineering experience has led to him mission work in his retirement. His work teaching water treatment techniques and solar power installation in the US, Honduras, Peru and El Salvador has made safe water and solar power available in developing countries.

David also collects antique hand tools, old farm machinery and researches historical land deeds in Wilson County. Retirement has been a busy time in his life and working as a poll official has been a part of it.

Howell was recruited by a friend before he retired. His company encouraged employees to be involved with their communities and politics so this was a perfect fit. Working alongside people he knew was enjoyable and after retirement the interest in elections continued. David started out as a machine operator and has been the Officer at the WA Wright election day poll for the past few election cycles.

Howell describes his experience as “…a meaningful way to be involved. A way to help make voting a pleasurable event- it means something. I enjoy seeing my friends and neighbors at the polls. Some of them I only see when they vote. I have enjoyed being part of the process.”

David Howell is one the over 300 Wilson County voters that serve Wilson county as poll officials during Early Voting and on Election Days. Visit to meet more Wilson County poll officials at the Poll Worker Spotlight and to learn about becoming a poll official.


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