Celebration services for Dr. Ernest O. “ Slim” Howell will be held at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches, LA. The family will receive friends on Monday, October 21, 2013 from 5:00-8:00pm at Blanchard St Denis Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 12:00 noon at Blanchard St Denis Chapel. Interment will follow at Central Cemetery near Robeline, LA
Ernest O. “Slim” Howell was born in Oakdale, Louisiana on August 21, 1924. Ernest was the fifth of eight children born to Fred and Margaret Howell and grew up mainly in Jonesboro-Hodge, Louisiana. He joined the United States Army at a young age. After basic training, he was deployed to London, England and received additional military training and began to instruct in alliance with British forces. It was during this period, British forces offered him a “Training and Instruction” position. He respectfully declined this noncombat assignment because he had a strong desire to meet the enemy head on, so he asked to go to the front line combat.
His Military career was distinguished, as he trained and fought during World War II. He always said his greatest accomplishment was his participation in D-Day. He served in two military divisions, the 29th Infantry Division-16th Infantry Regiment-Company F, and the 8th Infantry Division- 28th Infantry Regiment-Company I.
On June 6, 1944, the D-Day Invasion, he landed in Normandy, France at Omaha Beach. After D-Day, he was trained and became a Specialist for Intelligence Reconnaissance behind enemy lines. He requested and was granted the ability to work alone, due to his proficient and unrelenting pace and performance. He continued this aggressive style during his participation at Hedge Rows (France), Saint Lo (France), Battle of Brest and Crozon (France), Battle of Hurtgen Forest (Germany), Battle of the Ruhr Pocket, (Germany) and the Battle of the Bulge (Germany). He was wounded twice in combat and returned to the front line both times. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war. During his military service and due to his courageous, selfless and heroic performance he received multiple military honors: The Combat Infantry Badge, Two bronze stars, The Presidential Citation, The Purple Heart, and Campaign Medals for Battles in Normandy, Northern France, The Rhineland, and Central Europe.
After serving his country, he enrolled in Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, Louisiana in the fall of 1946 and participated in both Varsity Football and Varsity Track. In 1950, he graduated from NSC with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education Major and a Minor in Social Studies.
After graduation in 1950, he began his coaching career as Head Football Coach at Vinton High School, in Vinton, Louisiana. They made the state playoffs in 1950, 1951, and 1952 and played in the State Championship game two of the three years he was there. His second coaching job was at West Contra Costa Jr. College in Richmond, California, where he was the Assistant Football Coach and they played in the Potato Bowl in 1953. In 1954, he became the Head Coach at Franklinton High School in Franklinton, Louisiana and they went to the Cypress Bowl. It was here that he found his sweet love of his life, his wife Joyce Dickinson. She was the Girls Head Basketball Coach and together they made a great team. They married in 1955.
In 1955, he earned his Masters Degree from the University of Arkansas before returning later that same year to his alma mata, Northwestern State College. He was the Defensive Coordinator under Turpin and Clayton at NSC until 1966. He was also the Offensive Line Coach from 1963-1966. During this time, Northwestern had very successful football teams, tied for the Co-Conference champions in 1957 and 1958. They were Conference Champions in 1962. In 1958, he was offered a job as a Assistant Coach at Louisiana State University by Coach Paul Dietzel, which he turned down to stay at NSC. It was during his tenure at NSC that he became a Scout for the NFL San Francisco 49er’s. He recruited many great players at NSC, including NFL pro-football Hall of Fame member Jackie Smith, who he found at a high school track meet. Staying busy while continuing to coach football for Northwestern, in the summer’s of 1956, 1957 and 1958 he was the City Recreation Director for Natchitoches, Louisiana. He was the NSC Golf Coach in 1958 and 1959, and was the NSC Track Coach in 1965 and 1966 all while continuing to serve as a Football Coach. In 1967, he was offered a coaching position with the new upstart NFL New Orleans Saints, which he declined. In 1967, he decided to move to the classroom and became the Associate Professor of Health at Northwestern State College. He loved Northwestern, Coach Howell could be seen all over the Campus and city, coaching, teaching and helping the community, from the football field, the track, to the canoeing area at Chaplin’s Lake.
In 1972, he earned his Doctorate Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. 1975 Dr. Ernest Howell, received the PEK Service Award.
While continuing to teach at NSU, in 1976-77, he volunteered his personal time as a courtesy, to return to the football field as the Head Football Coach for the Natchitoches Academy Trojans. That year became a very special year for him and his team. The Trojan’s were District Champs in Football that year and went on to play in the State Championship game in Football.
During his tenure at Northwestern, he wrote and published many papers on Health, Physical Fitness, and Athletic Wellness.
Starting 1981 Dr. Howell held an average of two Holistic Health Seminars a week for teachers, businesses, industries, clubs, and church organizations all over North and Central Louisiana before retiring from Northwestern State University in 1986.
In 1988, he went back to work as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Baptist Christian College, in Shreveport, Louisiana.
He continued his love of teaching and coaching at some of the local high schools and Middle Schools: 1989-91 St. Mary’s High School, Natchitoches, Louisiana; 1991-1995 Many High School, Many, Louisiana; 1995-1997 Negreet High School, Negreet, Louisiana; 1997 Rusheon Middle School, Bossier City, Louisiana. During his time in Sabine Parish he was awarded “Sabine Parish Teacher of the Year” in 1996.
In 1999 he was on the committee that spearheaded the building of the Jack Clayton Plaza at Northwestern State University. He was very proud of this project. In October of 2000, he received the “Northwestern State University President’s Distinguished Service Award.” In 2003, he was inducted into the “Northwestern State University Graduate N Club Hall of Fame.”
Dr. Howell continued teaching college courses part-time at NSU until a stroke debilitated his health in 2002.
“Slim” as he was called by his friends, was always doing construction projects on his house himself. He tore down a school for the lumber, that he used to add rooms and remodel his home. He loved building, and that never changed even after his stroke, always directing the projects from that point on. One of his favorite football quotes that He always believed in and said was, “Meet strength with strength, and let weakness take care of itself. “ We believe that he lived his life this way.
He was loved by his family, players, and friends and will be greatly missed.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Margaret Maddox Howell; his brothers and sisters, Jack, Lillie Bea, Claude, Floyd, Fred, Minnie Lea and Paul Howell and his wife, Joyce Ray Dickinson Howell.
He is survived by three children, Becky Eve Howell Morreale married to Angelo P. Morreale of Shreveport, LA, Fred E. Howell of Natchitoches, LA, and Alan D. Howell of Natchitoches, LA, one grandchild Alexis M. Morreale of Shreveport, LA., sister-in-law, Deanie Israel, brother-in-law Ken Dickinson and wife Celia, and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins, whom he always cherished greatly.