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Remembering Noel Stanley

An extraordinary life reaches its end

Noel Stanley left this world on Monday, after 74 years without a wasted minute. The phrase “lived life to the fullest” has become an overused cliché, but it accurately describes the life of Noel Stanley.

He was a soldier, a musician, an artist, a police officer, a family man and a friend. Stanley served in the United States Army, then came home and launched a career in country music. Stanley began playing bass at Houston’s iconic Esquire Ballroom on Hempstead Highway, which is where he began a lifelong friendship with a drummer named Don Lacy in 1965.

Stanley and Lacy took their talents to Nashville, where they split up when Stanley landed a spot in Ernest Tubb’s band, the Texas Troubadours. Two years later, Lacy says he talked Stanley into joining him in playing with Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely.

Lacy said he and Stanley lived a few doors apart in Nashville, where both became reserve police officers. After more than a decade in Nashville, both men moved back to Texas and went to work for the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office. They also continued playing music, with the Texas Throwdown Band.

Eventually, Stanley and Lacy went to work for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, where Stanley was highly respected for his work in forensics and retired as a lieutenant. His presence is still felt in the agency not only because of his exemplary work, but because his daughter, Katherine, is now part of that agency.

After retiring from the MCSO, Stanley and his first wife, Amy, moved to Hawaii. They remained island residents for a decade or more, until Amy Stanley’s death, Lacy said. Stanley then returned to Texas where he married his second wife, Carleen Whitton-Stanley. They lived in Spring, near The Woodlands.

Lacy, currently a lieutenant with the MCSO, is deeply saddened at the loss of his friend of more than four decades.

“Noel was one of the most personable people,” Lacy said. “Once you met Noel Stanley, he was a friend forever.”

But Stanley’s attributes were not limited to his magnetic personality.

“He was extremely intelligent and talented beyond belief,” Lacy said.

Stanley was a gifted bass player who shared the stage with legends in country music, but according to Lacy, he was also an amazing artist. Whether it was portraits painted in his leisure time or forensic sketches used in crime solving, Lacy said Stanley was second to none.

Lacy said Stanley will be missed by “everybody he ever knew or had any dealings with.”

Those sentiments were shared by Detective Stewart Hightower of the Montgomery Police Department, who began working with Stanley when he was part of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Stanley worked for the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office. Hightower again worked with Stanley in Montgomery County.

“He was a policeman’s policeman,” Hightower said, “part of the old school – he was fair to everybody and never got too excited.”

“(Stanley) was a good man,” Hightower said.

MCSO Captain Ken Ariola called Stanley “a really great guy” and said his daughter Kathy is like her father, an asset to the agency.

Memorial services for Noel Stanley will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Cashner Colonial Chapel. To post a tribute to the family, visit www.mem.com.

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