W. L. “Jack” Howard
Howard understood defeat, but made the most of victories that followed as mayor to turn Monroe into a “true regional hub.” He served in the Navy during World War II and later as president of the Louisiana Jaycees (and national vice president). Defeated in his first bid for Monroe’s leadership in 1952, he came back in 1956 to win on a pledge to clean up the bankrupt city and improve its infrastructure and industry. Landmarks during his tenure include the Monroe Civic Center (bringing in many stars including Elvis Presley), Monroe Theater (now “W.L. Jack Howard Theater:), City Hall, Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, Monroe Regional Airport and more. Defeated again in 1972, Howard came back to win four years later. He is credited with easing racial tensions in the 1960’s by working with black leaders and challenging while business leaders to welcome blacks as patrons and employees.