Neighbors help San Jon family

William Thompson

Around thirty San Jon residents came to the aid of Corky Howe and his family recently by holding an old-fashioned barn raising on the family’s property.

Howe suffered four massive heart attacks in May of 2002 and was unable to complete construction of the barn that he had begun prior to the heart attacks. On May 22, San Jon Police Chief Ben Gates organized 28 volunteers and they showed up at the Howe’s home in San Jon at 7 a.m. By 5 p.m. the 30 by 50 foot barn was completed. Howe’s wife, Pat, said many people who could not participate in the barn raising expressed their good wishes. “People came by all day long, and many of them brought food.,” she said. “Those who were busy that day found time to stop by and wish us well and apologize for not being able to help.”

Corky Howe said he was amazed when he looked out his window May 22. “I looked out and saw people getting here, and the next thing I knew they had two sides and half the roof up,” he said. Howe said he is still overwhelmed when he thinks back to that day. “I was feeling good inside because there are not too many places left where people get together like that to help somebody,” he said.
Pat Howe said she was amazed at the no-nonsense attitude the volunteers displayed. “The volunteers showed up and they went right to work,” she said. “There was no messing around. Even the kids went around cleaning up our yard for us. It just overwhelmed me that everybody showed so much kindness and worked so hard.”

Corky Howe had begun working on his barn in May of 2002 and was only able to get the holes dug for the poles when the four heart attacks in quick succession ruined any hopes he had of finishing the barn himself. “They flew me in a twin-engine ambulance plane to Albuquerque four times,” he said. “I am now kept alive by a defibrillator, a pacemaker and a good doctor.” Howe, the former owner of Howe’s Truck and Auto Service in Tucumcari, said he won’t be able to putter around in his barn, working on machinery as he had planned to do. “I’ll never be well enough to go out into the barn and play around with machinery and fix things, but we can use the barn to store a lot of the stuff from my old auto service business.” Ben Gates, the man behind the barn-raising detail, said the idea for the barn raising came to him about two weeks before the event. “I was driving by the Howe’s residence and I said to myself that it looked like these people need some help,” he said. “I put up notices at local businesses and people started calling me up offering to help.”