Howell
S.
Needham


 

HOWELL S. NEEDHAM was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 8, 1895 to Fred and Emma Needham. The family, which included older brother James, was living at 114 Birch Street in North Camden when the 1898 City Directory was compiled and were there when the 1900 census was enumerated. Fred Needham worked as a plumber to support his family. By 1906 the family had moved to 132 Birch Street. The 1910 Census shows the family at 639 Grant Street. By 1914 the Needhams were living at 340 Federal Street, and Howell Needham was working as a plumber alongside his father. The family was still at 340 Federal Street when Howell Needham registered for the draft in June of 1917. He was called to service the following year.

Howell S. Needham joined the United States Army on May 27, 1918 and reached the rank of Private First Class. He returned home to Camden and was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on March 23, 1919. He reported for duty on May 1, 1919 and was assigned to Engine Company 4. Howell S. Needham was still living with his parents at 340 Federal Street when the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled. 

By 1927 Howell S. Needham had married. He and his wife Mary were living at 522 Cedar Street with newborn son Robert. The 1929 Camden City Directory shows the Needhams had moved to 319 Birch Street. By 1931 Howell Needham and family had moved across the street to 318 Birch Street

Howell S. Needham was transferred to Engine Company 6 on July 1, 1933. By 1946 he had been promoted to Captain. 

Just after 10 P.M. on February 20, 1946, a major fire occurred in the S.S. Kresge Department Store at 29-33 Broadway near Federal Street. First arriving units found heavy smoke billowing from the building as second and third alarms were transmitted in quick succession.

Shortly after midnight, a backdraft injured five members as flames raced through the building. Firemen William Reed, Thomas Winstanley, Theodore Guthrie, Thomas McParland and Captain Howell Needham were removed to Cooper Hospital for facial bums; whereupon each member insisted on returning to the fire following treatment. At 12:30 A.M. Deputy Chief Charles Erickson directed the Fire Dispatcher to recall a platoon of off duty members and summon them to the fire. By 2 A.M. the flames had broken through the roof and were visible ten blocks away. As the first floor began to collapse Engine Company 8 was forced into the street as a roaring column of tin vented outward some thirty-five feet over Hudson Street. While the Department was making a major effort on Broadway, another fire broke out at the Camden Foundry Company, Front and Elm Streets, North Camden. Engine Company 11 assisted by off duty members staffing reserve apparatus confined this fire to a section of the building.  

Captain Needham retired from the Camden Fire Department on June 15, 1951 on pension.

Howell Needham's wife Mary passed away on August 9, 1956. He was still living at 318 Birch Street as late as August of 1959. His son Robert was then living in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Howell S. Needham died on November 4, 1963 and was buried at Beverly National Cemetery on November 8, next to his wife.. 


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