Former state rep dies at age 81

Flags on state buildings will fly at half-staff in remembrance of retired state Rep. Frankie Howard, who died over the weekend at the age of 81.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had served with the Many Republican in the Louisiana House in 2007 and 2011. Howard was reelected in 2015, representing District 24, which covers portions of Natchitoches, Sabine and Vernon parishes in the western part of the state. He was unable to run again in 2019 because of term limits.

Edwards and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder confirmed Howard’s death Monday. No cause of death was immediately released.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rep. Frank Howard,” Edwards said in a statement. “He genuinely cared for his constituents, and his desire to make life better for them motivated him to work hard on their behalf.”

Howard had been elected sheriff of Vernon Parish in 1976 after having worked as a deputy sheriff for 15 years. He retired as sheriff in 2000.

As a state legislator, Howard was responsible for renaming the half-mile stretch of La. Hwy. 463 to Pitkin High School after B.R. Harvey, the long-time teacher and coach who became the first Vernon Parish resident inducted into the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Coaches Hall of Fame, and for naming the portion of U.S. Hwy. 171 that passes through Anacoco after Sgt. James Edward Martin, who died in 1950 during the Korean War but whose remains weren’t identified until April 2016. Howard also sponsored the law that increased the daily take of sac au lait caught in Lake D’Arbonne from 50 to 100.

Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft said on Facebook that he had spoken with Howard last week in the hospital and “he was upbeat and optimistic concerning his illness.”

Craft added, “Rep. Howard was an old school politician known for rising early in the morning to start his day. I’m proud to have known him since my early childhood years.”

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