Ernest Joseph Alexander, Jr. died Tuesday evening January 17, 2012 from esophageal cancer. Funeral Services will be held at an 11:30 am Mass of Christian Burial on Friday, January 20, 2012 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. Entombment will be in St. John Cemetery. He was a native of Port Allen and a long time a resident of Lafayette, La., the son of the late Ernest Joseph Alexander, Sr. of Port Allen, Louisiana and the former Dolores Cronan of West Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Shirley Champagne Alexander, one brother, John Arlen Alexander and his wife, Carolyn Kimball Alexander.
Every year, month and week that passes I am reminded by memories that reinforce a wonder – I have had the wonderful great fortune to have among my friends countless amazingly good people. I was reminded of that again this week when while out-of-state I learned that a long time friend Ernie Alexander had succumbed to Cancer. Ernie and his wife Shirley lived just a few houses away from ours when I was still in school. At the time I was fascinated to help him plant a bed of fancy day lilies; fascinated, because up to that time day lilies were simple and practical yellow flowers that one used to line driveways and paths.
At one time or another Ernie Alexander seemed to do something of everything. He was a familiar face on the television and voice on the radio. For some younger than I he was a favorite teacher and coach. He was a supporter of the Little Theater and Symphony. He was active in politics filling the District 43 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives for eight years, at a time when I was actively trying to communicate ideas and positions of Louisiana Surveyors with the legislature. Prior to that he served on the Lafayette City Parish Council.
The seat he occupied was previously held by Mike Michot, a school-age chum of mine, who vacated it to serve in the Louisiana Senate. He made time to step aside and have a conversation every time I showed up at the capital, asking how my parents were doing or conveying a recent story about them to me! Frequently he would point out that Shirley was sitting nearby in the gallery so we could say “hello.” He was an active member of LABI, CABL, NFIB, and PAR.
As you may remember from an earlier post, my father died in May. Ernie had been suffering for a while already, but he and his wife, Shirley, with smiles, hugs and warm support. That meant a lot to me, bringing up memories of visits to their house and a welcome offer of a cold drink and conversation on many a hot summer day.
He was an authentic example of a modern Renaissance man. He delivered the weather on KATC television and sports and more on radio; including co-owning and managing KMDL and KFTE radio stations. He enjoyed working in his garden and was active at St. Pius X Catholic Church. He taught at Ovey Comeaux High School. (I knew Mr. Comeaux as the senior usher/guardian at the fledgling parish when I was a young altar boy – another example in my thoughts.) Ernie Alexander was active in Rotary Club and the Republican party and the Tea Party movement. He was an owner/manager of radio stations. For 50 years he was the Voice of the Kiwanis Club Football Jamboree and leader in the Lafayette Little League. He authored “A Programmed Guide to Teaching Radio and Television in Lafayette Parish Schools.” He was a Board Member of the Acadiana Arts Council, as well as the Lafayette Little Theatre and a Past President of the Acadiana Symphony Association and Chairman of the Board of the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana. His activities included serving as Past President of Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, Past President of Mid-Acadiana Broadcasting Corporation and board member of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters,
Ernie was more than just active. He was honored and recognized by those he served.
- Outstanding Teacher in Lafayette Parish;
- Outstanding Speech and Debate Coach in Louisiana,
- Inducted into the Louisiana Broadcaster Hall of Fame,
- The Lafayette Tea Party dedicated the “Ernie Alexander Library” in their Headquarters,
- Outstanding Service to the Community Award,
- Outstanding Rotarian
While just a few of his accolades makes an impressive list, Ernie Alexander impressed one even more in person by the very personal and cordial nature in which he related to whomever he was speaking. Those who knew him feel the world shrink a little by his passing. Ernest “Ernie” Alexander was 78 years old.