D'IBERVILLE -- He started every meeting asking, "Does anybody have the correct time?" and that is how many D'Iberville council meetings still begin in honor of former Councilman Robert Bellman.
"That was Mr. Bellman's saying," said City Clerk Jodi Weise. He represented Ward 4 from 1997 to 2009. "He was definitely one of a kind, and we miss him," she said.
Bellman, 86, died Thursday. City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said, "We decided to fly all the city flags at half-staff until the funeral."
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, D'Iberville, with visitation beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Eleuterius said he met Bellman about 55 years ago when he was best man for a wedding and Bellman officiated as justice of the peace.
"One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet," Eleuterius said.
His occupations and accomplishments were many, starting as a running back on the Biloxi High football team, where he earned the nickname "Bone Crusher," and on the Galloping Gales, a semi-pro football team in Biloxi. Bellman was a singer and songwriter who hung out with Elvis Presley when the up-and-coming star visited Biloxi in the 1950s.
Like Presley, he served in the Army. That was followed by 20 years at the Biloxi Police Department, then 15 years as counselor and case manager for the state Department of Corrections and five years as a wastewater lab tech and plant manager in Biloxi.
"People say that if you add up all the things I've done, I'd be 110," Bellman said in a Sun Herald interview.
Bellman said he left his job as a Harrison County Justice Court judge because "the only money I made was if I found someone guilty. I don't think that was justice."
His son Chris Bellman said, "We'd have starved to death. He believed in giving people second chances. He was a very compassionate man, not only with his family but with every one around him."
He and his wife, Thelma, were married for 59 years and had two children, Chris and daughter Mary Plummer; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
"He was a truly a Southern gentleman," said his cousin, former Councilwoman Brenda Broussard.