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'He Made Me Proud to be Part of the Marching Jags Family'

Cecil Houston: A legacy remembered.

Cecil Houston was more than a band instructor.

He was a mentor. He was a counselor.

He was the rare soul every parent hopes will touch the life of his or her child in school. Not only because he was a dedicated teacher, but because he also taught them and guided them through those life lessons that would make those children grow into solid, productive adults.

Mr. Houston, 36, was the band leader at Jackson High School. He died Dec. 30 after collapsing at a friend's home. He is survived by his wife of 10 years, Fantara; four sons, Cecil III, 10; Christian, 9; Cahron, 6, and Colin, 5.

He also is survived by his parents, Cecil Houston Sr. and Loretta Houston, and three sisters, Ramona, Rhonda and Rhesa Houston.

A native of Brownwood, Texas, Mr. Houston moved to Atlanta as a teen and is a 1994 graduate of North Atlanta High School.

He received his bachelor's degree in music education at Clark Atlanta University in 2000. He met his wife at CAU in the marching band that both had joined.

He was member of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, as well as a member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity.

"The 5th Quarter" — the Wake — will be held at CAU's Cornelius L. Henderson Student Center at the corner of James P. Brawley Dr. SW and Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard, on Monday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m.

The Celebration of Life Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at Elizabeth Baptist Church, 4245 Cascade Road SW.

Parents and students at Jackson said he was a special teacher and a blessing to the school.

"He was one of those rare teachers who really loved the kids and they knew it," Jackson parent Kari Lovell said, explaining he was among the first teachers she met at the start of the school year.

Despite the external challenges of being in a new building temporarily and other factors, she said he was a steady and calming force who looked out for the kids and cared for them as if they were his own.

He made the band, which he had been rebuilding this school year, come together like a family, she said.

'You don’t get that many teachers in life that are the kind that you’ll remember forever' - Kari Lovell, Jackson High School parent.

Lovell's daughter,  Caston Noorullah, a Jackson freshman, is a trumpet player and member of the band.

"He really cared about his students," Caston said. While a disciplined teacher, she said he made sure to reach out to all of his students to ensure that they were not only learning, but that they were also having fun.

"You don’t get that many teachers in life that are the kind that you’ll remember forever," Lovell said. "I couldn't be sadder for his family — our family could not be more sad right now. It's a tragedy for the whole high school."

Mr. Houston, who also was percussion instructor at CAU, was the type of teacher that gave his students tough love when they needed it, said parent Santina Cambor, whose son was in the band last year.

She said he could always be counted to pull students aside and get on them to be achieve to their fullest potential live up to their responsibilities as students.

Just the Wednesday before school let out for the Christmas break, she said he had a heart to heart with her son over letting his grades slip.

"He was 'Mr. Tough Love,' " Cambor said, adding even though he could be hard on his students, pushing them to be their best, they didn't mind the tough approach because they knew he cared about them.

"He was a very good teacher," she said. "He really cared about his kids."

Ramona Houston, his oldest sister, said her brother valued family, valued education and particularly as a black man, fatherhood.

"He's had great examples in the family of uncles and grantparents," who instilled in them the value of education especially since they came from a long line of educators, his sister said.

"He understood his responsibility as a father, an educator and community advocate," Houston said. "What his role was as a man and more specifically, his role as a black man."

She said saw that in how he doted on his four boys and cared for them.

Her brother, she said, was a happy man and had great sense of humor that endeared him to his family and friends. 

That humor factored in how he related to his Jackson kids.

Myla Miller, one of his former students at Jackson, wrote to Patch that Mr. Houston really understood kids.

"I will truly miss him — his jokes," she said. "He made me smile when no one else could."

SEE ALSO:

  • The Jackson High School Marching Jags' Creed
  • Rest in Peace: Cecil Houston
Carla Adams January 07, 2013 at 05:28 AM
As a parent of one of the Houston boys, Cecil III good friend Robert Adams, I can attest to the wonderful example both the Houston parents demonstrate!! I have had the wonderful experience of having had Cecil III over for weekend play dates and new immediately the impact his father has had on his young life!! Know that our family is also here to support you in any way we can especially with the boys and helping to ensure some sense of normalcy to their lives!! The boys and Fantara have an angel in heaven watching over them always!!!!
James Riles January 07, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Cecil was a major blessing to the CREAM Percussion section. He opened up his school(on his off days) to allow us to practice. He always said that since we were there practicing that it would give him time to work on things for his students. We would see him cleaning the closets,fixing instruments,etc. He even took out the time to paint his student's drums.They looked so good that we thought they were new drums. He was a blessing to us and he really valued his family. His family would be with him sometimes also. He also liked playing at his church. He will be missed....God heal our hearts,please. Touch his family and reassure them that all is well. In Jesus name,Amen
wilbert c. rogers January 07, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Knowing Lil'Cecil from birth has been a joy. To see him grow. flourish and become "All" he was destined to be is all a family can hope for their children. His was a life 'well-lived' and he did it so quickly. I have had the pleasure of being friends with this family, sharing in your joys, and now sharing your sorrow. But all is not lost, because your prayers have all been answered. . . He's finally arrived. . . The healing that you'd hoped for, has now been realized. No ones in a hurry, theres no schedule to keep He's just enjoying Jesus, and sitting at His feet. . And If you could see him now, He's walking streets of gold If you could see him now, Hes standing tall and whole If you could see him now, You'd know he's seen His face If you could see him now, You'd know the pains erased. You'd never want him to leave that perfect place, If you could only see him Now! My fraternity brother. . . Once a Sinfonian! Always a Sinfonian! Phi Mu Alpha & Kappa Kappa Psi - Brownwood delagation. . . Dr. Wilbert Rogers, Dallas, Texas
Ralph A. Long III January 08, 2013 at 02:57 AM
I'm a classmate of Cecil's from North Atlanta. We were in the first class and in the band together under Mr. Colbert. Cecil was a well disciplined musician, a good friend, and a good boy all together. I remember the freshness of our uniforms as the school was brand new, and the pride we took in our steps as we marched for the beginning of North Atlanta's New legacy. Cecil was very proud of his position at Maynard Jackson, very proud and I was too for him. His life was cut too short and he will be missed. Cecil was headed for greatness like Vanable Moody. To his family, the Long family sends our regards and as we traverse sorrow's difficult terrain please don't hesitate to reach out. We are shocked and saddened. Ralph A. Long III
Ambrose Leburu January 09, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Brrrro! You always have to be the center of attention....I guess your job is donedown here, so the good Lord needs you up there. I never got a chance to see you at the wake my brother but thankfully the mark that you have left down here is good enough for eternity. You definitely walked to the beat of your own drum man. I mean, played soccer, ate pancakes with peanutbutter, no cursing, Michael Jackson fan and drove a yellow deuce deuce like it was a Benz. I love you man, till the next time we meet....

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