Telling the Story: An Earlham Alum's Journey

Howell Gatchell

Howell Gatchell’s Earlham education prepared him for a rewarding career in radio news. He is showing his gratitude with a legacy gift to the College.

Howell Gatchell '69 has seen firsthand what an Earlham education can do.

A retired radio journalist, Howell was thrust into one of the biggest stories of his career while still a student.

“I looked out my window and saw a giant cloud of smoke,” Howell recalls. “There had been an earth-shaking explosion.”

It was April 6, 1968, and a gas leak under Richmond streets ignited black powder in a downtown sporting goods store.

Howell, a junior political science major who was working at a local radio station, made it to City Hall less than an hour later, following the story as it unfolded.

“I wound up doing reports for radio stations all over the United States,” Howell says. Forty-one people were killed in the explosion, and numerous buildings destroyed.

Howell credits his Earlham education for building a strong base for his subsequent 40-year career in radio news.

“An Earlham education teaches writing skills well,” Howell says, adding that his courses in political science prepared him to cover politics and government. “Earlham laid the foundation for my learning how things work.”

Since retiring in 2009, Howell has returned to Richmond, where he tries to pass on some of the lessons he has learned.

“I interact with Earlham students a lot,” he says. “They make a difference in so many ways, and that needs to be encouraged, now more than ever.”

Recently, Howell established a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) with a gift of real estate, which the College is now in the process of selling to fund the trust.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Howell, who will collect income from the trust for life, while the remainder value of the trust will eventually come to Earlham for its benefit.

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For more information about trusts or other gifts that can provide you income for life, please contact Gail Connerley at 765-983-1439 or