Senator Howell Heflin
Howell Heflin was an American politician
who served 3-terms as U.S. Senator representing
the state of Alabama (1979-97), and also
served as Chief Justice of the Alabama
Supreme Court (1971-77).
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Howell Thomas Heflin
Date and place of birth: June 19, 1921, Poulan, Georgia, U.S.A.
Date, time, place and cause of death: March 29, 2005,
at approximately 4:00 p.m., at Helen Keller Memorial Hospital,
Sheffield, Alabama, U.S.A. (Heart attack)
Wife: Elizabeth Ann Carmichael (m. February 23, 1952 -
March 29, 2005) (his death)
Son: Howell Thomas Heflin, Jr. (known as Tom Heflin)
Father: Marvin Rutledge Heflin (a Methodist minister)
(b. May 10, 1877, Randolph County, Alabama -
d. March 8, 1976, Montgomery, Alabama)
Mother: Louise Douglas Strudwick (b. February 27, 1888,
Demopolis, Alabama - d. 1968, Leeds, Alabama )
Burial site: Oakwood Cemetery, Tuscumbia, Alabama, U.S.A.
Howell Heflin attained the rank of major
while serving with distinction in the U.S.
Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946. While
fighting in the Pacific during World War II,
he was wounded twice and was awarded the
Silver Star and the Purple Heart. Following
his military service, Heflin earned his law
degree from the University of Alabama School
of Law in 1948, and began his law practice
in Tuscumbia. He was a highly successful
"country lawyer" for several decades (1948-71).
Heflin was sometimes referred to as the
"Perry Mason" of North Alabama, the result
of his down-home stories, folksy, cajoling
speaking style and clever courtroom maneuvers.
Additionally, he taught political science
at the University of Alabama from 1946-48
and at the University of North Alabama from
1948-52 (at that time known as Florence
State University). Howell Heflin served as
president of the Alabama Trial Lawyers
Association (1963-65), and was thought to
be one of the most effective presidents
the Alabama State Bar Association ever
During his years on the Alabama Supreme Court,
he spearheaded judicial reforms and restored
confidence in Alabama's highest court.
Elected to the United States Senate in 1978,
Senator Heflin's distinguished senate career
was notable for his early appointment to
the Senate Ethics Committee and Senate
Judiciary Committee. He was a familiar face
on television screens as chairman of the
Senate Ethics Committee, a position he held
for 12 years. Sometimes described as the
"conscience of the Senate," the conservative
Southern Senator was a strong supporter of
national defense, law enforcement, and
federal subsidies for rural farmers. While
he was certainly a member of the Democratic
Party, Senator Heflin was frequently more
in tune with Republicans and once called
environmentalists "extremists." Still, he
could usually be counted on to support more
traditional Democratic legislation.
His life and career spanned a period of great
change in the United States, the South and
particularly Southern politics. Senator Heflin
perhaps best summed up his part in those changes
in his senate farewell speech: "It has been
publicly stated by black leaders that I was
the first senator from my state who believed
in and supported the civil rights movement.
I worked to secure the extension of the Voting
Rights Act; to appoint African-Americans and
women to the federal bench and other federal
offices; to support historically black colleges;
to ensure passage of the civil rights restoration
bill; to help pass the fair housing bill; and
to establish a national holiday honoring the
late Martin Luther King, Jr."
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