J. Howell Flournoy

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Joseph Howell Flournoy

Sheriff of Caddo Parish, Louisiana
In office
July 1940 – December 14, 1966
Preceded by Thomas Roland Hughes
Succeeded by James M. Goslin

Born October 21, 1891
Greenwood, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died December 14, 1966 (aged 75)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Mary Bridges Flournoy
Children Georgia Lou Flournoy Hodgson
Occupation Law-enforcement officer
Religion Presbyterian

Joseph Howell Flournoy, known as J. Howell Flournoy (October 21, 1891 – December 14, 1966), was the sheriff of Caddo Parish based in Shreveport in far northwestern Louisiana, a position which he held from the summer of 1940 until his death in office twenty-six years later. His tenure as the Caddo Parish sheriff has yet to be surpassed.[1]

Background

A native of rural Greenwood in southwestern Caddo Parish,[2] Flournoy was the son of James Pattison "Pat" Flournoy, Sr., the Caddo Parish sheriff from 1906 to 1916, who had previously been the Shreveport municipal auditor, parish tax assessor, and coroner, at a time when medical examiners in Louisiana need not have been physicians.[3] Flournoy was the paternal grandson of 19th century Sheriff Alonzo Flournoy.[1]

Flournoy was educated in Shreveport public schools and thereafter attended an unnamed business college. A Louisiana National Guardsman, he was a United States Army veteran of World War I, with assignment on the Mexican border. He was also as an instructor in a machine gun school at Camp Hancock, Georgia, and was commissioned a lieutenant.[4]

Public career

At seventeen, Flournoy became a deputy in the Caddo Parish sheriff's department, a position that he held from 1913 to 1928. He was hence a deputy under his father from 1913 to 1916, as were two of his brothers, James Flournoy, Jr., and George A. Flournoy.[3] From 1928 to 1940, J. Howell Flournoy was a deputy Caddo Parish tax collector. In 1940, Flournoy was elected sheriff to succeed Thomas Roland Hughes (1878-1965) in the same political cycle which brought to the governorship Sam Houston Jones of Lake Charles, who unseated Governor Earl Kemp Long. Hughes, known for his arrest of the controversial blues musician Lead Belly (1888-1949), had succeeded J. Pat Flournoy as sheriff in 1916. As sheriff, J. Howell Flournoy in 1940 organized the Caddo Parish Selective Service Board and trained an internal security group in Shreveport during World War II. He spearheaded a measure to establish a pension and relief fund for sheriff's department employees.[4] From 1950 until his death, except for one year, Flournoy headed the Louisiana Sheriff's Pension and Relief Fund.[2]

Flournoy often received commendations for his work in law enforcement from J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The defunct Shreveport Journal afternoon newspaper referred to Flournoy, accordingly, "A well-known conservative and a spokesman for patriotism, Sheriff Flournoy spent his entire adult life striving to improve his department in all fields of duty and speaking out against anything or any group which he felt posed a threat to Americanism. The sheriff and his department, ranked among the best and were often copied by other similar law agencies ... he was also recognized for his well-known work with youth, including his Junior Rifle Program, nationally acclaimed.[4][5]

Flournoy was originally a segregationist though he later hired the first African-American deputies in Caddo Parish. When state Senator William Monroe "Willie" Rainach (1913-1978) of Claiborne Parish, an unsuccessful gubernatorial contender in 1959, telephoned Flournoy to inform him that one of the African-American deputies had spoken in support of racial integration, Flournoy dismissed the deputy.[6]

In 1964, Flournoy, a Democrat, broke party lines to endorse the Republican U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona for the presidency in the general election against Lyndon B. Johnson. Joining Flournoy in support of Goldwater, who spoke in Shreveport on September 17, were former Governors Sam Jones and Robert F. Kennon, State Senator Jackson Beauregard Davis (1918-2016) of Shreveport, Louisiana Secretary of State Wade Omer Martin, Jr. (1911-1990), Lieutenant Governor Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock (1915-1987) of Franklin in St. Mary Parish, and the then the long-term mayor of Monroe, William Lorenzo "Jack" Howard (1921-2004).[7]

In 1947, Flournoy hired Harold Terry as a deputy, later the manager of the Junior Rifle Program and an expert marksman. Terry himself was sheriff for a single term from 1976 to 1980.[8]

In 1952, Flournoy hired George Wendell D'Artois, Sr. (1925-1977) as a deputy sheriff, a post he held for nine years. D'Artois stepped down in 1962 to run successfully for Shreveport public service commissioner, a position abolished in 1978 under the mayor-counciln city charter.[9]

Personal life and death

In 1965, Flournoy was named the "Outstanding Conservative of the Year" by the Americanism Forum of Shreveport.[10] He received other honors from the Progressive Men's Club and the American Society of Safety Engineers. Flournoy was affiliated with the American Legion, Lions International, Chamber of Commerce, Order of the Eastern Star, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Masonic lodge, and the Shriners, a group which in the late 1920s located one of its children's hospital in Shreveport. He was president of the Caddo Rifle and Pistol Club for a decade from 1956 until his death. He was the first marshal of the Holiday in Dixie festival held each April in Shreveport.[4]

Flournoy was married to the former Mary Bridges, a native of Morehouse Parish northeast of Monroe, who moved to Shreveport with her family in 1913.[4] The Flournoys had one daughter,[2] Georgia Lou Flournoy Hodgson, who was living in Kuwait at the time of her father's death.[4]

Flournoy was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport until he helped to organize and then became an elder in the newer Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in the Broadmoor neighborhood.[2] He resided at 180 Preston Avenue in Broadmoor.[11]

Flournoy died at Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport of cardiovascular disease at the age of seventy-five.[2][4][12] Flournoy and his wife are interred at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport.[13]

Flournoy had announced two months before his death that he would not seek reelection in 1967. He endorsed as his preferred successor his chief deputy, James McCormick Goslin, Jr. (1915-2001), a Democrat originally from Calhoun in western Ouachita Parish who was reared in Ruston in north Louisiana.[13] As chief deputy, Goslin served the remainder of Flournoy's term and was then elected sheriff outright in 1967 and again in 1971.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Historical Facts (archived copy). Caddohistory.com. Retrieved on December 31, 2010).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Flournoy, J. Howell. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved on December 31, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Beginnings of the Modern Sheriff's Office. caddohistory.com. Retrieved on December 31, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Sheriff 26 Years – J. H. Flournoy Dies," Shreveport Journal, December 14, 1966, p. 1.
  5. Robert Dyment (September 1962). Junior Rifle Clubs – Action, not Words 31, 48. Guns (magazine). Retrieved on September 26, 2014.
  6. Adam Fairclough (1995). Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915–1972, 2nd, Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. 
  7. Shreveport Journal, September 17, 1964 (afternoon paper), p. 1.
  8. Harold M. Terry. Oralhistory.w. Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  9. (2009) Bill Keith, The Commissioner: A True Story of Deceit, Dishonor, and Death. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 80–89. 
  10. Flournoy, Sheriff J. Howell. scripts.lsus.edu. Retrieved on December 31, 2010.
  11. William McCleary, "The Broadmoor Neighborhood: One of Shreveport's Older Communities", North Louisiana History, Vol. XLII (Winter-Spring 2011), p. 5.
  12. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses material for its sketch of Sheriff Flournoy from scrapbooks in the archives at [Louisiana State University in Shreveport, which opened the year after Flournoy's death.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Flournoy obituary, The Shreveport Times, December 15, 1966, p. 9-A.