By Alyssa Schnugg
Funeral services for Ulysses “Coach” Howell, Oxford’s longest-serving alderman, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Tallahatchie-Oxford Missionary Baptist Association Building. Burial will follow at the Oxford Memorial Cemetery. The viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday at L. Hodges Funeral Service.
Howell, 69, died Saturday, May 11, 2019, after suffering from a massive stroke the day prior.
Son of Cleveland and Nora Sims Howell, he was born and raised in Brandon. After high school, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi Valley State in Greenwood to teach social studies and physical education. He later went on to earn his master’s in Administration from the University of Mississippi while working for the school district.
Howell and his wife, Frances, moved to Oxford in 1972. They had two children, Kesha and Tarek. He was hired by the Oxford School District in 1972 as a coach and social studies teacher. He retired as an assistant principal in 2009 after 37 years with the school district.
He became the Ward 4 aldermen in 1993 and was the longest-serving aldermen on the current board when he died Saturday.
He was a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and a true family man. He enjoyed tending to his yard, fishing and spending time with his grandchildren.
Howell’s death came to a shock to fellow Alderman Janice Antonow.
“Coach ran the board meeting last Tuesday in his usual competent, upbeat manner,” Antonow said Monday. “He called me Wednesday just to chat as he did so often, so I was shocked when I got the message early Friday morning that he was on the way to the hospital.”
Antonow has served on the board for 22 years alongside Howell.
“When I was first elected in 1997, Coach had already served for several years,” she said. “He helped me so much that first year. I went to him with all my questions.”
Antonow said what she admired most about her friend was his commitment to fairness.
“He was unrelenting in seeing that all citizens and all city employees were treated equally,” Antonow said of Howell. “No favoritism, no special treatment, a level playing field for all. I am so saddened to lose my longtime colleague and friend. My deepest sympathy to his family and all those who loved him as I did.”
Former Mayor Pat Patterson first met Howell 30 years ago when Howell was a coach and would shop at Patterson’s store, University Sporting Goods on the Square. Patterson joined Howell on the Board of Aldermen in 2001.
“Ulysses was certainly a good friend. He was one of those people you always thought would be there,” Patterson said.
Howell served under five mayors – John Leslie, Pat Lamar, Richard Howorth, Patterson and Robyn Tannehill.
“He was a community-spirited individual who always cared for the less fortunate and was always there for them,” Patterson said. “His passing is a loss for the entire community. We lost a treasure.”