He served in World War II, earned renown as a college football player, coached, worked for decades and served as a county supervisor.
Still, Homer Dedeaux wasn’t finished.
In the early 1990s, after retiring from his 20-year career working at a car dealership and serving three years as a Harrison County supervisor, Dedeaux channeled his energy into a new project.
He became a Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy and began working with inmates at the Harrison County Sheriff’s County Farm in Gulfport.
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At the farm, he taught inmates how to grow vegetables and raise cattle. He got to know the inmates, his son, Mozart Dedeaux, said.
He identified strengths and delegated different tasks to different people. One inmate from Missouri had previous experience working with horses, and Homer Dedeaux helped get him a position taking care of the horses at the County Farm.
“He was well-loved and respected by those guys,” Mozart Dedeaux said.
He was a mentor to the men. Many of them kept in touch with Homer Dedeaux even after they were released. He worked as a sheriff’s deputy for about 10 years.
The story is typical of a man who seemed to have limitless energy and a desire to help others.
“He was a warm, gentle man,” his wife of 52 years, Shirley Dedeaux, said. “Just loved everybody.”
Homer Dedeaux died July 23, at the age of 91.
A veteran, then a star athlete
After finishing high school in Gulfport in 1943, Homer Dedeaux joined the U.S. Navy. He traveled through the Pacific and fought in World War II, serving for four years. Then he began working on a degree at Tulane University, playing as a center on the school’s football team.
He was known as the “60-minute player,” the only player on his team to play on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. A highlight of his college football career came in 1948 when Tulane trounced LSU 46-0 in the final game of the season.
In that game, Homer Dedeaux intercepted an LSU pass, contributing to the shutout.
He was close to playing in the professional league after college after accepting an offer with the Chicago Bears.
An injury prevented him from ever going pro.
He was added to Tulane’s “All-Time” football team and still holds records at the school.
A gardener and family man
While Homer Dedeaux was working with inmates at the County Farm, he was also tending his own garden with his family.
“One of his big passions is gardening and cows and horses and things like that,” Mozart Dedeaux said.
He loved tomatoes more than anything else, though. He and Mozart Dedeaux would pick 10 gallons of tomatoes a day and give them away to friends or make sauces out of them.
“He lived for tomato sandwiches,” Mozart Dedeaux said. “Bread, tomatoes, mayo and bacon.”
Shirley Dedeaux said her husband loved his family more than anything. He was a godly man, too. He grew up Episcopal, but joined Trinity United Methodist Church when he met his wife.
“I turned him into a Methodist,” she said. “He loved the Lord with all his heart.”