Helen was an artist and through the years ahead, she completed more than 2,600 beautiful paintings including many of our nation’s landscapes. The Choctaw heritage runs deep in this family, going back to the Trail of Tears with his great-great-grandmother, including her three children and their families. While Ernest’s great-great-grandmother passed away on the Trail, her three sons survived and established new residences in the Indian Territory. Originating from the Choctaw family names of Hudson and Bohanan, Ernest’s’ family was established near Tuskahoma, OK on the Indian allotment land of his mother, of which the family still owns. This is where he spent his days as a young boy with his brothers and sisters. His mother would send them on adventures to climb the trees that were near their home to retrieve the bark at the top.
His mother would use the inside scrapings of this bark to make medicine. They would also dig up “snake root” to be used for medicine. “My parents didn’t own a car until I was a junior in college,” said Ernest, so they walked or rode their horses wherever they needed to go. They were a blessed family during The Depression because they had plenty of farm animals to keep them well nourished. Something important Ernest remembers his mother telling he and his brothers and sisters is “You are going to college!” It was very important to her that they gain a good education, and that’s just what Ernest did. He had earned his bachelor’s degree in math and science from Oklahoma A & M College and went from teaching school in Stigler to becoming the high school principal in Tuskahoma in 1943.
He became principal of Antlers High School in 1944 and earned his master’s degree from Oklahoma A & M College in 1949. He was working towards his doctorate, but decided to focus more on his current career in education and administration. “I don’t regret quitting pursuing my doctorate,” Ernest said, and he soon became the superintendent of Eagletown Public Schools. Four years after serving as superintendent for Eagletown, Ernest began teaching at Durant Jr. High School and made Durant his home. He still resides there today. He taught many math and science classes and eventually was put in charge of and directed an educational television station coming out of Durant Public Schools. “I really enjoyed the TV,” Ernest said. “I enjoyed all of it.” It was a television station for the students, by the students. Ernest enjoyed working with television production and attended some television teaching studios in east Texas for a time.
He also worked at KXII Studios one summer. Not only has Ernest been involved with television, he’s been a photographer as well. He developed his first roll of film in 1937. He has taught a night-photography class at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He wanted to earn his living by doing things he loved, not working at something he didn’t enjoy. With his work in teaching children, school administration, directing students in television program production and photography, Ernest is living his life doing the things he loves most. Something that Ernest thinks is important to do is to read to children. “I have made an effort,” he said, to read to all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It brings him great pride for his children and grandchildren to say to him, “I remember you reading us stories.” He now reads to his six great-grandchildren as much as he can. They say to him, “Big Papa, tell us stories!” According to Ernest, this fills him with pride. Ernest loves reading to his great-grandchildren, but he shares his stories with as many people as he can.
Since Ernest came to Durant in 1959, he has been close with the Choctaw Nation. “I tried to be involved in everything I could with the Choctaws,” he said. Ernest has traveled to various schools and read Choctaw stories to students. “It’s good for children to have people read to them,” said Ernest.
He has read both to elementary and high school students and enjoys teaching people about the Choctaw heritage. Recently, Ernest has been reading Choctaw stories to children in the Robert E. Lee Public Library in Durant. Ernest encourages young people to go out and get an education because it will be very helpful to them later in life when they are searching for the right career.
They should choose a career field they will love and enjoy so they will live a happy life. Ernest advises the youth of today to “study and know more about your people” by studying your native language and heritage. “I like for people to be proud of whatever they are,” he said, even if they’re not Choctaw. Ernest Hooser is an honorable Choctaw elder that is admired by many. He is an incredibly kind man who lives to love, learn and pass his wisdom to those around him. He recently closed a speech, receiving a well-earned standing ovation by over 100 listeners, by stating, “I am a proud Oklahoma Choctaw Indian. I am a proud American Indian.” Ernest shows pride for his Choctaw heritage in a way that deserves the upmost respect. Ernest Hooser was named the “Choctaw Outstanding Elder” of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in 2004. Ernest’s brother, John A. Hooser, also received the “Choctaw Outstanding Elder” award in 2004.
Mr. Hooser is survived by his son, Carl Hooser and wife Lou Ann of Durant, Oklahoma; daughter, Patricia Ann Morgan and husband Leonard of Durant, Oklahoma; grandchildren, Leiann Bahe and husband Tim of Plano, Texas, Layne Morgan and wife Pam of Durant, Oklahoma and Leslie Prentice and husband Walter of Bokchito, Oklahoma; great-grandchildren, Dillon Bahe and Madison Bahe of Plano, Texas; Alysse Morgan and Asheley Morgan of Durant, Oklahoma, Katheryn Prentice and Kaitlyn Prentice of Bokchito, Oklahoma and Melisse Prentice of Durant, Oklahoma; twin sister, Ernestine Hunkapillar of Broken Bow, Oklahoma; brother, John A. Hooser and wife Lucille of Clayton, Oklahoma; niece, Rosemary Hooser of Clayton, Oklahoma; special friend Judy Allen of Durant, Oklahoma.
Mr. Hooser is preceded in death by his parents, Newton Hickman “Newt” Hooser and Helen Hooser; wife, Helen Hooser.
Family Hour will be from 6-7:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the Holmes-Coffey-Murray Funeral Home in Durant, Oklahoma. Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Friday, May 25, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Durant, Oklahoma with Rev. James Robinson officiating. Graveside Services will follow at 2:00 P.M. at the A. L. Stephens Memorial Park Cemetery near Clayton, Oklahoma. Serving as pallbearers will be Bill Brown, Jack Treat, Alfred Wheeler, Wendell Peoples, Jim Peddy, Dick Bogard, Paul Buntz and Dennis Sterbenz.
Honorary Pallbearers will be the remaining fellow Gideon Camp Members, his Coffee drinking friends at McDonalds and special friend Judy Allen.
Family and friends may send online condolences and view tributes at www.holmescoffeymurray.com .
Services are under the direction of Holmes-Coffey-Murray Funeral Home, Durant, Oklahoma.