BILOXI -- A leader in the seafood industry that shaped Biloxi, a staunch competitor, an avid story-teller, a skilled net-maker and an athlete, Herb Glavan enjoyed people, young and old, and loved giving demonstrations at Biloxi's Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.
Glavan died Friday at his home, dressed and ready to go to a doctor's appointment. He was 85.
Robin Krohn David, executive director, called him one of the seafood museum's pioneers, "a great volunteer in the early years."
"He's on a video that we show at the museum every day, talking about the seafood industry and his business (Glavan Trawl that was on Oak Street before Katrina)," she said. "He's one of a group of characters interviewed on 'The Biloxi that Seafood Built.'"
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Also on the video are Eley Ross and Jimmy Ellis, others who knew the skill of putting together shrimp and cast nets, she said, "and all of them are gone."
She said the museum would call Glavan if they had a school group coming that needed a demonstration.
"He had such colorful stories," she said. "He would show you how to knit a net. For the children, they would get on their knees, and he would throw it over their heads, like they were the fish and he was catching them. Kids loved that."
His son, Kenny Glavan, a Biloxi councilman, said when they had the business of net-making, he was a serious competitor.
He reminded shrimpers to be successful, Kenny Glavan said. When he designed a net for a shrimper, he interviewed them.
"He wanted to know what depth they were fishing, the power of the boat, the length and width," Kenny Glavan said.
He kept detailed records and was constantly fine-tuning his nets, his son said.
"He would tailor the net to the boat the fisherman had. That's what set him apart."
He had the gift of gab, a charmer who liked to dance. In the 1950s and 60s he was also known on the Coast as an athlete, playing center field on 17 state champion men's fast-pitch softball teams. He was working on three scrapbooks from that era when he died.
He spoke with a casting director once and found himself as an extra in movies that were shot in the Delta and New Orleans. He had bit parts in "King Fish" and "Glory Road." He doubled for Gene Hackman, even though he wasn't happy about cutting his hair for the part. He was a bank teller in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," his favorite project.
"He made nets for everybody in the world," said Biloxi Councilman George Lawrence. "He always believed in the seafood industry. If you asked him a question, he'd talk for 15 minutes about it. It was his way of life, seafood and shrimping. He had a happy way of life, always enjoying himself. He was an ambassador."
Glavan was the 2006 Biloxi Shrimp King and was inducted in the seafood museum Hall of Fame in 2014.
He lived at home in Biloxi until the end. He could walk and still had his balance, Kenny Glavan said. Friends and family checked on him. He was still cooking.
"He just had agreed to get a walker. The doctor had written a prescription, and I picked it up the day he died," Kenny Glavan said. "He wasn't suffering or bed ridden .... He was quite a man, we'll miss him."
His services will be Wednesday at St. Michael Catholic Church.