Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Howard Marsellus, Jr.

Saturday (along with DBU's homecoming) was a day of mourning Howard, Brant's uncle. Uncle Howard passed away in the early morning of November 10th after a short, yet very painful and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Howard was, by far, mine and Brant's family person of the family - his caddy personality, his silly stories and crazy sense of humor ALWAYS brought a smile to the faces of those around him.

Howard live a long and eventful life that left a legacy of hope and equality. Howard was born and raised in Louisiana. He served as a teacher and principal in Baton Rouge schools and served for a time on the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Council.

In 1984, he was appointed Pardon Board chairman by then-Gov. Edwin Edwards. In 1986, he was indicted in the pardon-selling scheme. Howard had been told by the Governor that no pardons were allowed, and that all prisoners were to sentenced as by the court. A year later, he pleaded guilty to state bribery and conspiracy charges and a single federal mail fraud count. He was sentenced to five years in prison but only served 20 months. I remember going on a family trip not long after Brant and I were married and Howard and I sat talking for hours about his time on the Parole Board and his time in prison. Howard sent men, that he now believes were innocent, to die in the electric chair because of the bribery and schemes of the governor. Yes, Howard admits he was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted, however, he was also one of the most remorseful men I have ever known.

After prison, Howard, Nancy and their two children moved to Rowlett, TX where Betsy Spence made a special connection with Howard. Betsy was the wife of Garland's mayor and she was a sweet, Godly woman who approached Howard one day and asked if he had a personal relationship with the Lord. He answered that he did not, and at that time, rededicated his life to the Lord and began a quest for knowledge that would lead him to new places in life. Howard, because of his past with the pardon and parole board began seeking answers to a question that would change his life: "The death penalty...is it wrong or right?"

After time seeking the truth, Howard began a strong advocate opposing the death penalty. Howard firmly believed that God, and God ALONE, had the right to give and take life. It was not the responsibility of the government, or any human being, to do so. Howard fought for equality of all persons regardless of the color of their skin, their place in life or the money in their wallet! All men were created equal and Howard believed this more than any one person I have ever met.

Howard's life was full of life changing lessons,
was a friend to everyone and never met a stranger. The one thing that I remember so clearly from his memorial is that Howard didn't just learn from his mistakes in life, he helped change the world he lived in because of them.


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