When 7-year-old Sophia Myers succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer on Oct. 21, she showed the Coast community that life can be measured in quality and not just quantity.
Here are some of the many people who died in 2017, leaving not only an impact on their family and friends, but the Mississippi Coast community.
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Joseph Thornton III
Joseph Thornton III, 84, former owner of The Factory and a charter boat, died Jan. 7. Biloxi bought The Factory from the Thorntons in 1986 with federal funds for the Point Cadet waterfront development project. The Thorntons leased it from the city, and in 1990 they reached an agreement with Biloxi to operate a cruise line that would take gamblers to international waters, where they could legally gamble.
Clare Hornsby, 95, a Biloxi attorney, died Jan. 2. Hornsby was a graduate of Ole Miss School of Law in 1945, the only woman in her class. She spent more than 60 years practicing law and was a partner at Sekul, Hornsby, Tisdale.
John Miner, 91, the owner of Miner’s Big Stuff Doll & Toy Store in Ocean Springs, died Feb. 18. Miner and his wife, Maryalice, opened the toy store in downtown Ocean Springs in the 1960s. In September 2015, the Miners received the John R. Blossman Humanitarian Award from the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA for 60 years of service on the Coast with the Chamber of Commerce and community events.
Mitch Salloum, 82, a Gulfport businessman and longtime member of Coast Coliseum Commission, died March. 12. He was the owner of M. Salloum Toggery in downtown Gulfport, and of the Best Western Beach View Inn that was lost during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Roy Mattina Sr.
Roy Mattina Sr., 92, died April 2. He was the last living member of the Biloxi City Council that inaugurated the city’s mayor-council form of government, from 1981-85. He was married for 59 years to Ursula M. Mattina, who died in 2005. Roy Mattina served as a justice of the peace, the predecessor to Justice Court judges, before he was elected in 1981 to the City Council. He defeated Dianne Harenski in 1981, then she beat him in the 1985 race.
Danny Guice Sr.
Daniel “Danny” Guice, 92, died April 13. He was a three-term mayor of Biloxi from 1961 to 1973. Guice served as Harrison County’s only representative in the state Legislature from 1955 to 1960 and as judge from 1977 to 1990. While in the Legislature, he helped establish the state Port of Gulfport and the Harrison County Development Commission, and helped get a bridge built between Biloxi and Ocean Springs.
Rick Amos, 53, died May 20. He was a Gulfport attorney and a beloved performer at Mississippi Coast playhouses. He had a law firm, Amos and Associates, in downtown Gulfport and had been an attorney since 1984. He also had performed in numerous leading roles at community theaters in Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis.
Jerry Reshew, 88, died June 23. A resident of Diamondhead, Reshew was responsible for moving the Naval Oceanography command to Stennis in 1978, and with it 1,000 civilian, military and contractor personnel. Today, the center employs roughly 4,000 people, over half of which work for the Navy. There are more oceanographers at Stennis Space Center than anywhere in the world, and the Navy at Stennis has an approximately $207 million impact on the 50-mile radius around the campus.
Jim Pinkston, 63, died, Aug. 23. He was the former owner of Pinkston Music on Pass Road in Gulfport. Pinkston was a union musician in Memphis and traveled the country, playing backup for Jerry Lee Lewis and other big-name musicians. He opened Pinkston Music in 1990 and closed it shortly before his death.
Walter Blessey IV, 78, died Sept. 17. He and his wife, Katherine, operated Chateau Blessey Bed & Breakfast on U.S. 90, in sight of the Biloxi Lighthouse, and throughout their marriage they opened their home to raise funds for a variety of charities and causes. The B&B received the highest rating on Trip Advisor with 94 percent excellent ratings. He was inducted in the Biloxi Sports Hall of Fame.
Sophia Myers, 7, died Oct. 20 after a nearly eight-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. She was the daughter of Josh and Angel Myers, who is a Jackson County Assistant District Attorney. She was a second-grade student at Oak Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs. Sophia was one of three children in Ocean Springs to succumb to the rare form of brain cancer.
Pat Morris, 77, died Nov. 27. He coached football at Poplarville High School from 1975 to 1989 and then from 2001 until 2004. Morris is the school’s winningest coach with a record of 106-89-4. He helped lead the Hornets to the Apache Conference championship in 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1984, with playoff berths in 1981-84, 1988 and 2002.
Raymond Lloyd “Ray” Brown, 81, died Dec. 25. He led Ole Miss on offense, defense and special teams from 1954-57 and was later drafted by the Baltimore Colts and collected NFL championships in ’58 and ’59 as a punter and defensive back. Brown also earned a law clerkship at the United States Supreme Court, where he clerked for Justice Tom Clark. He later moved to the Coast, where he was a successful lawyer in Pascagoula and in 1977 became the youngest president of the Mississippi Bar.
Maryalice Miner, 92, died Dec. 28. The Ocean Springs resident married, raised four children, then opened Miner’s Big Stuff Doll & Toy Store with her husband, John. The couple ran it for 30 years. Miner was also active in the Chamber of Commerce and the Gulf Coast YMCA.
The Sun Herald staff contributed to this report.