May 21st, 2020
As told by Col. Wesley P. Smith
New President Named to the Southern Industrial Institute
On May 21st, 1948, Mr. Eli Howell, a Southern alumnus, was named President of the academy, following Mr. J. Brackin Kirkland, who was then elevated to Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Mr. Howell graduated from The Southern in 1933 and had received the L.L.B. Degree from John Marshall Law School. He had served in World War II and was wounded in the invasion of Holland. He had married the former Elizabeth Henderson of Camp Hill.
For a time, Mr. Howell continued the work programs that had always been such an integral part of the school. But once again, the school fell victim to the changing times. The public-school system was now flourishing and the once crying need to help the poor rural children simply no longer existed. How proudly one could look back over the years. The Southern had reached thousands of boys and girls – giving the ideals, aspirations and education to make their lives successful and well balanced. It is never easy to change traditions and how Eli Howell must have agonized over the decision that it must be done. Finally, in 1955, with foresight and with great courage, he recommended to the Board of Trustees that the school drop the elementary school, no longer be co-educational and that a military program should take the place of the old work program. In keeping with the new outlook, it was decided to change the name of the school to Lyman Ward Military Academy, in honor of its founder.
Mr. Howell brought in retired military personnel to get the new program going. But the school’s financial situation was already critical, and it took time to build the new program, become known to the clientele who were interested in a military school, and to prove that it could compete with the other long-established and well-known military schools.”
The History of Lyman Ward Military Academy, 1997; Colonel Wesley P. Smith; Chancellor Emeritus