H. M. Fowler
|Hendrix Marion "Mutt" Fowler, Sr.|
Louisiana State Representative for
District 24 (Red River, De Soto, Bienville, and Sabine parishes)
May 1972 – April 1, 1986
|Preceded by||At-large members:|
|Succeeded by||Joe R. Salter|
Mayor of Coushatta, Louisiana
July 10, 1953 – April 11, 1972
|Preceded by||Douglas Fowler|
|Succeeded by||Elwood McWilliams|
|Born|| February 13, 1918|
Holly Springs Community, Red River Parish, Louisiana
|Died|| September 16, 2014 (aged 96)|
Louisiana, United States
|Resting place||Springville Cemetery in Coushatta|
|Political party||Democrat |
|Spouse(s)||Katherine Posey Fowler (married 1941-2007, her death)|
|Relations|| Douglas Fowler (brother)
Jerry Fowler (nephew)
|Children|| H. M. "Buddy" Fowler, Jr. (born 1943)
Katharine Ann Fowler (1946-2006)
|Alma mater|| Martin High School|
(Red River Parish)
|Occupation|| Insurance agent; Politician|
Hendrix Marion Fowler, Sr., known as Mutt Fowler (February 13, 1918 – September 16, 2014), was a politician and businessman who served from 1953 to 1972 as mayor of the small town of Coushatta in rural Red River Parish in northwestern Louisiana, as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 1986, and later as the executive director of the Sabine River Authority.
Fowler's public career ended in indictment and a plea bargain for the circumvention of state bid laws and dissatisfaction over his having allocated scarce public monies on low-priority projects. He served forty-five days in the Sabine Parish Jail. Fowler was the third member of a Democratic political dynasty that also included two Louisiana state elections commissioners, the second of whom was indicted, convicted, and imprisoned for bribery and income tax evasion.
The Fowler dynasty
Fowler was born to Angus Jesse Fowler and the former Margaret Zula Fair (both born 1880; years of death unavailable) in the Holly Springs community near Coushatta, forty miles south of Shreveport. He had two brothers and two sisters. His older brother, Douglas Fowler, was elected three times as the Red River Parish clerk of court (1940–1952) and later served two years as Coushatta's mayor from 1952 to 1954. Douglas Fowler was elected as "custodian of voting machines" in the 1959-1960 Louisiana state election cycle and served until December 31, 1979, when ill health forced him to retire. His title had been changed under a new state constitution to "elections commissioner" effective with his last term, which began in 1976.
Douglas Fowler was succeeded as elections commissioner by his younger son, H. M.'s nephew, Jerry Marston Fowler, who, like his father, was elected five times. Jerry Fowler lost the nonpartisan blanket primary with a third-place finish, amid allegations of impropriety which surfaced in the campaign. Suzanne Haik Terrell then defeated fellow Republican Woody Jenkins in November 1999, to claim the position. Jerry Fowler was thereafter indicted, convicted, and imprisoned for bribery and income tax evasion in connection with his official duties. Nevertheless, both Fowlers served in the elections position for a combination of just over four decades.
The youngest of the three Fowler brothers, "Mutt" graduated in 1937 from the former Martin High School in the Martin community in Red River Parish and attended Northwestern State University in nearby Natchitoches, Louisiana. He left college in March 1941 to enter the United States Army. With service during World War II, he attained the rank of sergeant and was assigned to a special group of soldiers to establish convalescent hospitals for injured military personnel on Army bases in five states. Fowler received orders to head to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations, but they were soon cancelled because of the historic Enola Gay atomic bomb flight over Hiroshima, Japan.
Fowler worked for his brother, John R. Fowler (1912-1990), in the latter's drug store in Coushatta but subsequently in 1956 became an insurance agent. He turned over the insurance firm in 1982 to his son, H. M. "Buddy" Fowler, Jr. (born December 6, 1943). He delivered papers for The Shreveport Times and was the Red River Parish agent for the Shreveport Production Credit Association. Fowler in 1953 became mayor of Coushatta to succeed his brother, Douglas, and served for nineteen years. In the 1971-1972 election cycle, which brought Edwin Edwards to the governorship, he was elected to the legislature, in which he remained for fourteen years. In his last election in 1983, he defeated two intra-party rivals, "Dickie" Alexander and Ray Dyess. Fowler resigned from the House on April 1, 1986, to become executive director of the Sabine River Authority, a port commission on the Louisiana-Texas border governed by an 11-member board based in Many in Sabine Parish in western Louisiana.
Troubles with Sabine River Authority
After two years, the Sabine River Authority dismissed Fowler from his position amid allegations of hiring friends and relatives, including his son. He was accused of spending the limited funds of the Authority on questionable undertakings, rather than access roads and boat lanes. He was also accused of circumventing state bid laws. The Authority announced on March 10, 1989, that Fowler's two-year contract would not be renewed and that he would be replaced by William Kratz, a then 66-year-old university mathematics instructor. Fowler's salary continued through March 31, 1989, when his three-year contract lapsed. Robert Gentry, then chairman of the Sabine River Authority's committee which screened the applications for general manager, said that Fowler had lost the confidence of the board. Katherine Fowler became so irate over the developments that she declared the allegations against her husband "all lies."Months passed, and an intensive investigation began.
In late 1990, the State of Louisiana announced that it would seek indictments against Fowler, his son, and Ottis Lewing (born 1935), a Many contractor. Lewing later admitted to bid rigging. "Mutt" Fowler was accused of two counts of forgery and one count of splitting profits, fees, and commissions. "Buddy" Fowler was similarly charged with a single violation of splitting profits, fees, and commissions.\
In March 1991, Fowler pleaded not guilty to the charges. In mid-October 1992, however, he made a plea bargain with the state in exchange for the dropping of the single charge against his son. He faced a maximum $1,000 fine, six months imprisonment, and $5,000 in reimbursement to the Sabine River Authority. Ultimately, Fowler served ninety days, with two years probation, $2,500 in restitution, and one thousand hours of community service. The ninety days was cut in half because of labor performed while incarcerated.
Fowler was a member of the Coushatta First United Methodist Church. He was married for sixty-six years to the former Katherine Posey (March 25, 1917 – September 30, 2007). In addition to their son, the couple had a daughter, Katherine Ann "Kathy" Fowler (March 29, 1946 – April 24, 2006).
Fowler died in September 2014 at the age of ninety-six. Except for his namesake grandson, H. M. Fowler III (who is buried at Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Red River Parish), the family is interred at Springville Cemetery just off U.S. Highway 71 in Coushatta.