JCJC icon A.B. Howard dies at 96

A Jones County Junior College icon has passed away.

Anse Bond “A.B.” Howard, Jr., who served as head basketball coach from 1950-77, died Thursday, Sept. 28, at the age of 96. He was born on March 21, 1921 in Louisville.

Visitation will be held from 1-3:45 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church in Ellisville with graveside services to immediately follow at Ellisville Cemetery.

Howard is the longest-tenured coach in JCJC history.

He also served as JCJC assistant football coach from 1950-58 and became head football coach in 1958 when Milton White resigned. In 1960, B.L. Kisner, the athletic director, died and Howard assumed those responsibilities, too.

Sim Cooley became football coach in 1961. Howard stayed on as head basketball coach until 1977 and retired as athletic director in 1982.

Howard was a star athlete at Gardiner High School in Laurel. He played football, basketball and ran track for the Golden Tornadoes. He was a member of the mile relay team whose record was unbroken for 35 years.

He then went to Mississippi State where he was a member of the school’s only Southeastern Conference football championship team in 1941. After serving in World War II, Howard returned home and coached at Glade High School before coming to JCJC as head basketball coach and assistant football coach in 1950.

Howard is a charter member of both the JCJC and Mississippi Junior/Community College Sports Halls of Fame. He was inducted into both of those groups in 2007.

Howard is also in the NJCAA Hall of Fame.  He was an assistant coach on the 1955 state championship football team, which appeared in the Junior Rose Bowl, and was inducted as a group in 2002. Also, the same team is recognized by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson.

“I consider this the greatest honor of them all,” Howard said of his induction to the JCJC Sports Hall of Fame. “I was honored and it was my pleasure to be a part of the others, but this means more to me than anything. When you are recognized by the school you served for so many years, there is more meaning to it. Jones is one of the finest schools in the country.”

In 2010, the school gym was renamed A.B. Howard Gymnasium in his honor and in 2015, a portrait of Howard, which was donated by his former players, was unveiled in the foyer of the gym.

He was preceded in death by his wife Sara Knipp Howard; parents Anse Bond Howard Sr. and Loula Mae Wilson Howard; son Dr. Anse B. Howard III; daughter Janice Howard Delk; grandson Mark Ralph Howard; sister Emma Howard Truitt; and brothers Jimmy and Lidell Howard.

Survivors include his son Ralph Howard (Kaye) of Ellisville; grandchildren Anse Bond “Buddy” Howard (Robyn), Nathan Howard, Jessica Howard, Bobby Howard, Sarah Howard, Alison Diers (Daniel), Russell Howard (Kristi), April Strickland, Robin McCall (Perry), Eilene Woodward (Jonathan) and Alan Delk; 24 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren with one expecting; brother Billy W. Howard (Linda) of Laurel; sister Dorothy Howard Jones of Laurel; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers will be Russell Howard, Mark Diers, Alan Delk, Jack Delk, Colt Howard and Dr. Daniel Diers. Honorary pallbearer will be Buddy Howard.

An online guestbook may be signed at www.ellisvillefuneralhome.com.

Ellisville Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.