Scholarship helps family remember fallen Homeland Security agent from Gulfport

Leigh Isaacson is the first recipient of a $2,500 Tulane scholarship named in honor of Jeremy Scott McGuire, a Gulfport native and Homeland Security agent who was killed in the line of duty.
Leigh Isaacson is the first recipient of a $2,500 Tulane scholarship named in honor of Jeremy Scott McGuire, a Gulfport native and Homeland Security agent who was killed in the line of duty. Courtesy of Tulane University

Jeremy McGuire’s job was a lot cooler than yours. It was so secretive that due to its sensitive nature, no photos can be published of him or his family.

McGuire, known to family and friends as Scott, grew up in Gulfport. He left the area when he landed a job with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

He started as an import specialist and quickly rose to become a special agent.

He was one of the top experts in commercial fraud investigations and in-bond diversion. His work ranged from investigating drug smugglers to busting perpetrators of child exploitation.

On Jan. 15, he was killed when a car hit him and another agent while they were on duty in Miami’s South Beach area.

According to The Miami Herald, Miami Beach police reported McGuire and another agent had hailed a cab that had just stopped to pick them up when a 2015 Mercedes E250 sedan made a wide U-turn, veered onto the sidewalk, hit the two agents and drove off without stopping.

After McGuire’s death, family and friends came to together and contributed to Tulane University to endow a scholarship in his memory.

Last week, the university’s School of Continuing Studies awarded the first $2,500 Jeremy Scott McGuire Scholarship to Leigh Isaacson, a graduate student in the Master of Professional Studies program in Homeland Security. Isaacson received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University.

“Her perspective as a professional broadcast journalist gives her significant advantage when considering complex questions of media and terrorism studies, crisis communications and emergency management,” said Michael Wallace, director of the Homeland Security Studies program .

Tribute to a selfless man

The scholarship has allowed McGuire’s friends and family an opportunity to reveal his selfless nature, sense of humor and love for family.

“Scott was passionate about his job and garnered the respect of his fellow agents not only through his unwavering integrity and loyalty, but also with his great sense of humor and easygoing nature,” his mother, Dayonne McGuire, said.

McGuire and his wife, Suzy, began dating in college in 1996 and married in 2001.

His proudest achievement was to be the father and buddy to his son, Finn, who was 5 years old when McGuire died, family said.

“Scott loved Finn more than anything in the world,” Dayonne McGuire said. “Even with his demanding work, he was never too tired to spend time with his son. Scott was Finn’s best friend. Together they would go to the park, roll down hills, ride bikes, make diving catches playing football, go to Mardi Gras parades, and read and build Legos together.”

Scott had a great sense of humor, Dayonne McGuire said.

Father and son would conspire to play pranks on Suzy McGuire, such as throwing ice water on her when she was in the shower. McGuire gave nicknames to his friends and family, staged elevator races with his co-workers, and with his quick wit was able to easily joke with strangers.

He would often ask his son, “What would Burt Reynolds do?”

‘One in a billion’

McGuire’s twin sister, Kelly Diar, had a large part to play in creating the Tulane scholarship.

“We take comfort in the saying that what matters more than the years in your life is the life in your years,” she said. “Scott truly lived more in his 41 years than most people do in 100. We are grateful that he had such an amazing life. He was one in a billion — and we miss him so, so, much.”

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, McGuire also worked as a sworn special officer to the Louisiana State Police.

His name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington in 2017.

The family will be celebrating the twins’ birthday later this month, the first without Scott McGuire in attendance.

“We will celebrate his life every day for the rest of our lives,” Diar said.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Jeremy Scott McGuire Scholarship at Tulane can mail a check to Celeste Uzee, Tulane School of Continuing Studies, 125 Gibson Hall, 6823 St.Charles Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory