Southwest Missouri Man Honors Late Wife Through Nature

JOPLIN, MO.— “I’ve had people tell me that they are at home and kind of not feeling so good. So they’d drive out to the bird tree and watch the birds for a while. And it’s comfort to me to know that that can happen,” said Eldon Howery, honors his wife with nature.

Eldon and Judy Howery built bird feeders on the tree soon after the May 2011 tornado, to help bring life back to a devastated part of Joplin. And for several years, it’s done just that.

“This has become more than just a bird feeder tree,” said Howery.

Last spring, Howery removed all the bird feeders after receiving calls that the colorful tree would be removed for a construction project.

“You don’t know about anything until it’s taken away from you,” he said.

Four months went by, and he lost his blushing bride of 25 years to cancer. As Howery grieved, community members continuously called him asking where the bird feeders went. Howery decided to get the tree back.

“So I started to investigate to see what was going on,” he said.

He was told by the real estate company and the city, they both had no intention of removing the tree. So Howery went back to work. Some more feeders and a few extra coats of paint later.

“It’s altogether now, up and going and the birds are still coming. I thought all this time, it’s been down and the birds would forget about it. Nope, they’re still coming,” said Howery.

There was still something missing. Howery says he went to get a sign from the Joplin Printing Company just before Christmas.

“They brought the plaque out and said thank you, Merry Christmas, this is our contribution to the bird tree,” said Howery. “I think now that she would appreciate it and the fact that it’s in memory of her.”

With the help of some of his handy co-workers from Lowe’s, and some generous business owners, the memorial for his wife, Judy Howery, is finally complete.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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