Ewing recalls his humble roots. His father was given a job at the Louisiana State University student farm in Baton Rouge during the depths of the Great Depression through the intervention of Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr. The senior Ewing was therefore able to study at LSU. Ewing explained accordingly: "My father's stories of LSU, Huey Long, and Baton Rouge because almost mystical in my family. This life-changing opportunity for a 19-year-old poverty-stricken boy from Chatham [Jackson Parish] bore great influence on subsequent generations" of the Ewing family.
Ewing is married to the former Rosemary Upshaw. There have two grown children, Ashley and Brandon. He graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in 1962. In 1966, he received a bachelor of science degree in business and finance from the E.J. Ourso College of Business at LSU. He studied history there under the famous professor Stephen Ambrose.
Ewing owns Ewing Timber Co., a business in Quitman, a small town near the parish seat of Jonesboro, in north Louisiana. Ewing maintained his Senate office in the nearby larger city of Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish. In Ruston, he is a director of American Bank and the private Cedar Creek School. He has served on the board of the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home in Ruston. He and Mrs. Ewing have long supported Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA. Ewing is a member of the Lions Club.
In the Senate, Ewing authored the Louisiana "Balanced Budget Amendment" and the establishment of the state mineral trust fund. He was active in promoting government ethics, the treatment of substance abuse, the prevention of child abuse, and reforms in education. In 1998, Ewing served on a citizens Advisory Committee recommending reforms to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In 2003, Ewing launched an unsuccessful campaign for governor in the jungle primary. He finished in fifth place with some 123,936 votes (9 percent). Ewing won the endorsement of New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin, Republican state Senator Robert J. Barham of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish, and former Republican state Senator Thomas H. Casanova, III, a Crowley ophthalmologist and former LSU football great. Though he is considered a generally conservative Democrat, the Christian Coalition rated Ewing at only 44 percent, compared to 90 percent for sitting Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter. The winner of the gubernatorial race was Ewing's fellow Democrat, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette.
In 1996, Louisiana Governmental Services, Inc., called Ewing the "conscience of the Senate". In 1999, Ewing was inducted into the LSU Hall of Distinction.