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Ernie Howard

Ernie Howard Feb 20, 1924 - Feb 18, 2008 LTC (USA Ret) Ernest Murrell (Ernie) Howard, born February 20, 1924 in Mesquite, Texas, passed away quietly before dawn on February 18, 2008 at Austin, Texas in the company of family and the strains of a favorite Gospel hymn. Ernie was the younger son of Ernest Thomas and Mary Elizabeth (Lilly) Giles Howard, both of whom preceded his passing, as did his sister Opalmae and infant brother Thomas Wade Howard. Ernie is survived by his wife of 60 years, Letajo (Adams) Howard; four children: Mickey Lemerle Lashbrook and her husband Alan, M'Lizabeth Dot Killion, Minka Leverne Howard, son Montgomery Wallace Howard and wife Catherine; eleven grandchildren: Adam Lashbrook and wife Dana, Anne, Andrew, and Kyna Killion, Rebekah (Chancy) Steenbock and husband Ben, Miranda Howard, Ronnie and Elizabeth Chancy, Marcelle and Margaret Howard, and Erin Chancy; and his sister-in-law Wilma Jean Jones. Ronnie Chancy presently serves with the United States Navy. He attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, following WWII, earning a BA in psychology, and an MA from the University of Texas at Austin in Radio/Television/Film. While at Southwestern he was active in music and drama groups and was president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He had a beautiful speaking and singing voice. Ernie served the nation in the South Pacific during WWII as an enlisted man with the first Marine Division. After the war, he worked in radio and television broadcasting for over twenty years in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. His career included coverage of the 1957 integration crisis in Little Rock as an on-the-scene reporter for KARK-TV. Some of this work was picked up by the NBC network, and utilized in the PBS documentary titled "Eye on the Prize." Shortly thereafter, Ernie led an ownership group which purchased a small Ozark radio station called KTCN. The group obtained the rights to the call letters 'KTHS' which had belonged to the first radio station to go on the air in Arkansas. The station continued operations under that newly acquired identity. Ernie, also, had a go at cattle farming during this time in Northwest Arkansas, and worked in the successful political campaign of Winthrop Rockefeller, the first Republican elected Governor of Arkansas since reconstruction, and the successful congressional campaign of John Paul Hammerschmidt. Through this period Ernie continued to serve the nation with the United States Army in the Arkansas National Guard, achieving the rank of CWO. He returned to active duty reserve status in 1968 with immediate advancement to the rank to Major. This, also, earned him the honorary title of "Major Pop Sir" from his children. Major Howard was attached to state Selective Service HQ in Arkansas and Texas, Inspector General staff in Chicago, and with National HQ in Washington, DC, from which he retired in 1976 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Col. Howard joined the faculty of the School of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin instructing in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film. In 1986 he took a position with USAID working in Liberia, West Africa, as an advisor for the development of rural radio in that country. Returning to Austin, he joined the School of Nursing in the audio-visual department until his retirement from education in 1991. Always known for his devotion to God, early influences as the son of a Baptist minister helped form his life. Key to this devotion was the 1937 tragedy in New London. As a 13-year-old son, he assisted his father in conducting dozens of funerals for grieving strangers and acquaintances, learning firsthand that service to others is part of true religion. Col. Howard was a faithful member of the Church of Christ, being a founding member of the congregation which meets on Duval Road in Northwest Austin, an association which lasted more than thirty-seven years. The Church was important to him. The congregation returned his devotion with support and love, giving him and his family great comfort and assistance recently as he made his way to eternity. Col. Howard will be celebrated by his family in a private observance in Austin on the morning of Thurs., Feb. 21, 2008, followed with the rendering of full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, beginning at 2:15 p.m. Please join us in San Antonio, and at a memorial service which will be held at 7:00 p.m., Fri., Feb. 22, 2008, at Northwest Church of Christ, 4610 Duval Road, Austin, TX 78727 In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations should be given to the church or charity of your choice. Ernie was a son, a brother, a student, a soldier, a husband, a broadcaster, a father, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a shade-tree mechanic, an educator, a man of faith, a grandfather, a servant to needy people in a remote part of the world, a man whose life will be celebrated and whose presence will be missed.

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Feb. 21, 2008
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