Jerry Reshew’s work to bring Naval Oceanography to the Coast remains a lasting legacy for the man and Stennis Space Center.
Reshew was born in New York City, but made Diamondhead his home for many years before dying on June 23. He was 88.
Throughout his life, Reshew was known for staying busy. He traveled all over the country and the world while working with the military. During his four years in the Air Force, Reshew participated in the Berlin Air Lift. While working for the Navy, he achieved a rank of GS-15, one of the highest ranks a civilian can attain.
One of Reshew’s biggest claims to local fame was being among the people responsible for moving the Naval Oceanography command to the Stennis Space Center in 1978, creating a thousand jobs for civilians, contractors, and military personnel.
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“In the 1960s, Stennis did a lot of rocket testing, but after the last Apollo mission, everyone was kind of unsure of what was next,” said Deputy Commander William Burnett. “There was a fear the center would shut down.”
With space exploration becoming a dead end for the center, Sen. John C. Stennis had the thought to focus on another unexplored frontier: the sea. The Navy looked at locations all across the country before settling on the Stennis Space Center.
Today, Naval Oceanography provides information on the physical environment, including wind, weather, wave height, currents, temperature and precise time, required by Navy ships, submarines, aircraft, and SEALS to operate and navigate safely and effectively. 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 Space Center has an approximately $207 million impact on the 50-mile radius surrounding Stennis Space Center.
To say Reshew was a hobbyist is an understatement. He was involved with sailing, tournament pistol shooting, hunting, fishing, raising and showing Great Danes, piloting, bowling and golfing. He was the president of the Mensa group on the Gulf Coast, a Reformed Jewish Rabbi and a past king of the Diamondhead Mardi Gras Parade. In 1993, he created the Diamondhead International Small Scale Steam Up, which became one of the largest conventions of its kind dedicated to small scale live steam locomotives.
Theodore “Theo” Louis Reshew, 51, recalls being inspired by his father's involvement.
“I'm very proud to be his son,” Theo Reshew said. “He was my friend, my adviser and role model. I wanted to be at least a little bit as successful as him. He always gave me something to strive for. I had a diet of excellence growing up.”
Theo Reshew has fond recollections of going to his father's office, watching how he carried himself and enjoying the comfortable and professional atmosphere of the office. He also appreciates how much his father taught him over the years.
“He was always a devil's advocate,” Theo said. “He would start to question you about anything you said. You had to prove to him that you thought about what you were saying and convince him it was sound. When you talked to him, you had to know what you were talking about. He did it when I wanted to change majors in college and he did it when I wanted to change careers. He made sure you did your due diligence.
“When I was younger he would take me to New Orleans to see plays at the Saenger or to Saints football games. He was great at making sure to broaden my horizons about the world. He would have get-togethers at the house, so I was always around adults, which allowed me to get along with people in a mature manner.”
A service for Reshew is 2 p.m. Sunday at Diamondhead Country Club.