THE ISSUE: The extraordinary life and death of Earle Howard.
OUR VIEW: He gave his life to public service and his heart to Lou Nell, his wife.
Many older residents of Howard County knew Earle Howard, who died Friday morning — 10 minutes after his wife, Lou Nell, had passed away.
Born and raised in Kokomo, Earle Howard fought in World War II after graduating from Kokomo High School and earned two Bronze Stars.
He married the former Lou Nell Davis in 1949 and joined the Kokomo Police Department in 1950. He started out as a patrolman and retired in 1973 as police chief.
He then joined the Howard County Sheriff Department as chief deputy to Sheriff Bob Sargent, and served two terms himself as the county’s top cop.
But his career in public service wasn’t complete. He served as a state representative in the Indiana General Assembly from 1986 to 1994.
Earle Howard was a man of great achievement. But that wasn’t who he was.
He was Lou Nell’s husband and father of their only child, Julie.
“Often, a man like Earle is thought to be so driven by his profession that he ignores his family,” Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers told family and friends during the Howards’ funeral at First Church of the Nazarene Tuesday.
“But Earle showed us we should be public servants because of our families — because of your family. He did what he did because of his family.”
The Howards’ health began to fail within the last year. Earle suffered from a heart condition, and Lou Nell had been diagnosed with dementia, their pastor, David Leeder, said at Tuesday’s funeral service.
Leeder said he visited the couple at their North Woods Village apartment last Wednesday. Earle told him he was ready to die.
“He said, ‘I don’t know how she’ll manage, and I don’t want to leave her. I don’t know what to do,’” Leeder told the crowd at the church.
So Leeder suggested praying God would allow Earle to pass away at the same time as his wife.
And, two days later, he did. He was 86, and Lou Nell was 82. They were married 63 years.
Earle Howard was a man of courage, integrity and service. He was admired and trusted by his friends and neighbors and adored by his family. He gave his life to public service and his heart to Lou Nell.
And she gave her heart to him.
Tribune columnist and night editor Rob Burgess told his wife the story surrounding the deaths of the Howards after reading their obituary.
“They won at life,” she said.