Scotty Michael lived to make people laugh.
"He always had a joke, something to make everybody laugh," said his niece Marty Bryant of Biloxi. "Everybody knew him for his jokes and good humor."
When Michael was a kid, Bryant said, he used to save up his money and order gags such as pepper chewing gum and itching powder out of the back of comic books.
"When the mail came, we knew we'd have hell for weeks to come," Bryant said.
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Michael, 52, of Pascagoula had lived in Biloxi about 10 years and worked as a cook and a dishwasher at the Biloxi Yacht Club. He also helped out at the Tivoli Hotel that was next to his apartment building.
Bryant said they were close in age, so Michael was more like a brother than an uncle, and they would spend Sunday afternoons on the back porch of her Oak Street home, joking.
"He came to my house the Sunday before the hurricane," Bryant said, noting that she urged him to evacuate with her but that he was determined to stay and take care of his friends at the Tivoli Hotel. "He was a guitar player, could play like no one ever heard. He said, 'You're going to see me on TV, and I'm going to be floating by on that Hard Rock guitar.' "
Michael and his friends thought they would be safe on the second floor of the Tivoli, Bryant said. "The building disintegrated, and a slab hit him," Bryant said. "This has almost killed me, losing everything, and my uncle."