In Memory of Bob Howell

Bob-Howell-PhotoBob shared himself widely, with community, with family, old friends and new, strangers, and even strange people (an inside joke for you, Bob, on the remote chance that you are listening to me). Although Bob belonged to everyone, if you were lucky, Bob would give you a little piece of himself, an exclusive gift that was totally yours.

Bob was one of the early encouragers when I began my online bulletin board: La Peñita Folk (later, Jaltemba Bay Folk). Bob’s gift to me was his posts to my board, and sharing of his tales of adventure, exploring in Mexico. There is no doubt that Bob’s sharing had much to do with the early popularity of my board.

When Bob and his partner Vicky took to the back country in his Magic Jeep, along with their trusty thermos of coffee, they always loaded up with the donated clothing, food packages, and medicines for encounters with people in need. It would be hard to overstate the extent to which Bob influenced our community. The largest and most successful of today’s community service organizations, Los Amigos de Jaltemba, can trace its grass roots back to a fund raising party we once had to help support Bob and Vicky’s efforts in the wake of Hurricane Kenna.

Today, there are other groups continuing Bob’s good works here in Jaltemba Bay.

Planning for the future and knowing his time here was limited, Bob built a solid, two story structure on a piece of Vicky’s property. It has two income producing apartments upstairs. The ground level has a small office and a large storage area. It is known as the McKibben Foundation (McKibben was Bob’s mother’s name). Sometimes the bodega is packed full of donated clothing, food staples, school supplies, and medicines; sometimes it is bare. Vicky, now retired from her nursing career, quietly carries on a devotion to the work that she and Bob so loved.

Among about a zillion other things, Bob was a champion horseshoe player. What began as a yearly party with his family and friends has grown into a yearly, weekend party and fundraiser. Since his passing, it is known as the Bob Howell Memorial Horseshoe Tournament. Many people from far and wide, plan their winter vacations to be here for this event. Along with the support of many of Bob’s old friends, his sons Jimmy and David have carried the torch and have been able to pass on hundreds of thousands of pesos to local children for education, recreation, and good health.

When I met Bob, right off the bat, it was fun to know we shared a mutual enjoyment of going off exploring in our Jeeps. Bob was more gregarious than I am. Along with Vicky, he always packed in as many people as the Magic Jeep could fit. Selfishly, I almost always go off solo. But Bob showed me that later, when I return, I can still share the adventure through photos and writing about the adventure.

Bob believed in sharing, and I do too. Anyone liking these stories can make a donation to THEIR cause (see below).

…with the utmost respect, admiration, and love; Happy Trails, Bob.

by Tom Plattenberger

Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication serves as an introduction to a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. The series, entitled “Back Roads of Nayarit,” details Bob’s day trips and adventures between 2001-2007. We are sharing these stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. If you enjoy reading these articles, please consider making a donation so the McKibben Foundation (Nurse Vicky’s Dispensary) can continue helping schools, seniors and needy families in the Jaltemba Bay area. And if you have copies of any of Bob’s old stories or photos, please contact us.

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

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2 Reviews on “In Memory of Bob Howell”

  1. :

    The world will never forget your existence great man sir Bob, we nigerians celebrate you and your achievements indeed you're great.

  2. :

    I moved here July 12, 2003. I lived not 100 meters from Bob and Vicky. At Christmas a dear friend came to visit me in my NEW LIFE! We went on that MAGIC JEEP TRIP AT CHRISTMAS. TO COFFEE COUNTRY! I will never forget it.... too much to write! But here we the back of. JEEP! There were all these other things. Candy to the children, clothes to the poor and bags of rice and beans and anything else that would fit in the jeep. I was amazed.....I thought I was taking my friend from L.A. on a neat tour of the area!!!!! OMG! It was a day that will live with me forever. And is why I try to help as much as I can. The tour we purchased....couple of bucks.... to COFFEE COUNTRY. There aren't enough words. What a day and an experience! I buy that coffee ALL THE TIME. I TAKE IT AS GIFTS. I have friends that tell me bring as much as you can...... It is a great story. Babies hanging in trees, napping, cooking over a bad camp stove, living in a Hubble, jeep getting stuck in a huge hole!. On and on......Bob and Vicky were the BEST! It all ended at a hot bath!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! 11 years later.....I just love that experience! Vicky is such an out standing person to help those the mountains, that we don't even think about. Vicky might lead ,excursions to these wonderful villages!!!! I know I would pay big time......again......for the experience I had 11 years ago.!!!! Bob Howell, walked to my house and introduced himself within, 2 days. I knew he was a wonderful person. And I felt confidant living NEXT TO A MARINE! God bless them both! I miss him ...but I know he is here!

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