Ernie would be proud

Dang! I regret not snapping a picture of a building in Amarillo that is the subject of this blog. That would be the Ernie Houdashell Randall County Annex.

You see, it is Houdashell’s name that gives me reason to comment. I am delighted to have seen the building with the late Randall County judge’s name on it. My bride and I made a quick trip to the Panhandle and we took a moment to gaze at Ernie’s name on the annex.

Houdashell died recently of complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. His passing saddens me to this day. He and I became acquainted shortly after my arrival in the Texas Panhandle in early 1995 when he was district director for state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo. Houdashell gravitated to the county judgeship not long afterward.

He worked hard to acquire the site of a former store on Western Street and build a county annex in south Amarillo. The county seat is in Canyon, but the bulk of the business in the county occurs at its annex, which formerly was stuffed into a tiny structure on Georgia Street.

Houdashell wanted county employees to operate in a modern and spacious venue and wanted the public they served to avail themselves of all the services the county offers.

He fought, cajoled and negotiated a deal for the county to build the annex. Then he died. The county then rewarded Houdashell’s memory by putting his name on the shiny new courthouse annex.

Oh, one more thing. The old annex structure has been repurposed into the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center, next to the memorial honoring all the individuals from the Panhandle who gave their lives in conflicts dating back to the Spanish-American War. Houdashell worked to acquire an Air Force F-100 fighter jet, an Army UH-1 Huey helicopter (similar to one on which Houdashell served while deployed during the Vietnam War) and a piece of the battleship USS Arizona that was sunk in the Pearl Harbor attack.

Again, he did that all of that because of his eternal love of the county he served with distinction and honor.

I will miss my friend forever and then some. Randall County has done well by inscribing Ernie Houdashell’s name on the county annex.