Don Howard is about to start his 15th year at the helm of the Ennis High School football press box. It’s not just a cool job to this quiet and mellow-voiced gentleman. It is a position handed-down by special request from the prior announcer.
From the years 1979 to 2004, this prestigious position had been held by Donald (“Don”) D. Washburn. He was a proud promoter of Ennis football and an active member of the Lionbackers Club. For 25 years, Washburn had been the voice of Lion football, announcing all the home games.
The two “Ennis Dons” – Don Washburn and Don Howard – had been close friends over the years. They enjoyed football together, RV-ing family excursions together, and attending community and school events together as a tandem.
In fact, according to Don Washburn’s widow Rosemary Washburn, she recalls Don Howard coming to visit her husband a few days prior to his death. She says, “My husband was adamant that he wanted Don Howard to take-over the P.A. announcer job for him, all in the name of Ennis football”. And the rest is EHS football history.
Howard’s wife of 52 years, Linda, and he hailed from Waco, but both became transplants into the city of Ennis in 1972 because of his taking the head job at the local Safeway store. (A few years earlier, he had graduated from Waco University High School in 1964.) Howard worked as the Safeway grocery manager for 29 years.
After that long-time job, Howard changed to managing the Brookshire’s Grocery Company/ Super-One store for 19 more years in Ennis. He may not have been born and raised in his adopted city, but it didn’t take long for him to begin to bleed maroon, like the rest of his close-knit family.
Interestingly enough, Howard never played football himself, but man, did he love it. According to Howard, “I enjoy my favorite sport because of the constant action – offense versus defense. Nothing better than that.”
Howard had previously served on the E.I.S.D. School Board for 10 years. Currently he works at the E.I.S.D. Tennis Center since his retirement in 2010. His son Keith Howard is the Head Tennis Coach for EHS and has been there for 24 years in that capacity.
Linda Howard, Don’s wife, retired from the E.I.S.D., after 25 years of service to the district. During that time, she was the Food Service Director for 10 years, and also, served as a teacher’s aide and bus driver at times.
In addition, Don and Linda’s son Larry is married to Heidi Howard, and she works as a nurse at Ennis High School. The elder Howards have three of their grandchildren (Larry and Heidi’s kids) who currently attend Ennis schools.
Don Howard’s daughter-in-law is Jennifer (Chapman) Howard. She taught elementary-aged children at Ennis for several years before taking on her current role as the Ennis High School Media Specialist (“the librarian”).
Jennifer’s parents are E.I.S.D. connected as well. Her father, Bill Chapman is currently an active Ennis School Board member. Previously, he had held the following positions as EHS coach, EHS High School principal and EISD Assistant Superintendent.
In addition, Mrs. Chapman, Jennifer’s mother, was a teacher for many years as an elementary educator at Austin, Bowie, and Travis school campuses.
You might say, as a huge understatement, that Don Howard’s Ennis school affiliations are a major part of his life. And it only took him a few short years in town to realize that he was a true Ennis Lion at heart.
Howard and his wife Linda have three grown sons (Danny, Larry, and Keith), and eight grandchildren (Jordan, Trevor, Tyler, Emma, Zoe, Will, Lacee, and Cooper).
Be sure to listen to Howard over the P.A. system at Lions Memorial Stadium every Friday night when EHS plays football at home. You’ll realize that he is not a fake, over-the-top announcer, but rather a humorous, laid-back, country gentleman that talks from the perspective of a man that loves his football – but especially the Ennis Lions variety.