Hancock County

Tragedy strikes twice for Coast family after Diamondhead car crash

Holcomb and Peggy Hector are shown in this recent photo.
Holcomb and Peggy Hector are shown in this recent photo. Courtesy of Judy Crim

A widower of four days has died of his injuries after a crash in Diamondhead claimed his wife’s life.

Holcomb Hector, 81, died on Saturday. He had worked for the Diamondhead Corporation — the entity that bought land for the city and developed it — for more than 40 years before his retirement in 2016.

Peggy Hector, his 79-year-old wife, died Oct. 16 when the car they were traveling in crashed at Gex Drive off Interstate 10. She was a founding member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

It was a shock to lose them both, but there is some peace in knowing they are together, said Judy Crim, one of Peggy Hector’s two sisters.

“They were such a loving couple and had a true love story,” said Crim, of Biloxi.

“They lived their lives together in this life and they will live their eternal lives together in Heaven.”

The couple had been out to dinner with some friends the night of the accident. They were heading to the Dairy Queen in Diamondhead to get Blizzards when Holcomb Hector blacked out from a heart-related problem, said Houston resident DeDe Bertron, one of the couple’s three children.

They were three miles from home.

“He was conscious after the crash and mourning the loss of his wife and injuries that put two dear friends in a hospital,” Bertron said.

‘Love at first sight’

The Hectors had been married 59 years.

“He died of a broken heart,” Bertron said of her father.

“I think what Daddy would say is life would be so lonely without her.”

The couple met on a train while traveling from Oxford to an Ole Miss football game in Alabama in 1958, the family recalls.

“It was love at first sight,” Crim said.

The couple’s favorite thing to do was to attend Ole Miss football games. Both had attended the University of Mississippi.

“They had a tent in The Grove (the Ole Miss tailgating area) for 40 years,” Berton said.

Crim described her sister as “a darling, loving person, a very religious person.” She described her brother-in-law as a devoted husband and grandfather and “the typical prankster, a jokester that everybody loved.”

The Hectors were “very simple people,” Berton said. “I think my parents would be mortified to get such attention. We’ve had a huge outpouring of support and love and it is truly getting us through.”

He helped develop Diamondhead

Holcomb Hector was vice president of the real estate company that developed Diamondhead. The city was named by a couple who once lived in Hawaii and touted the development as a Hawaii-themed property.

The first lots in the community were sold in 1970, with street names such as Kamehameha Place, Kolao Street and Aloha Drive.

“Street names were picked out of a Hawaiian dictionary by engineers who laid out our community,” Holcomb Hector told Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist Bob Sigall in 2014. Sigall wrote that he found out about Diamondhead by mistake while Googling an address, and interviewed Hector.

“As I understand it, they threw darts and picked whatever was hit,” Hector said.

The reporter asked Hector, known as a prankster, why Diamondhead was one word. In Hawaii, Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone and hiking area, is spelled with two words.

“Probably because they didn’t know any better,” Hector replied.

The Hectors had lived in Pass Christian before Hurricane Katrina. They moved to Diamondhead after Katrina destroyed their home.

Police report

Holcomb Hector was driving a 2018 Mercedes and wearing a seat belt when he had a medical issue at the time of the crash, Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said.

The Mercedes left the road, flipped several times and struck a culvert, Adam said.

Peggy Hector was a backseat passenger and was not wearing a seat belt, he said.

A memorial service will be Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gulfport. Visitation starts at 2:30 p.m., with the service at 3:30 p.m.

The family has asked that, instead of flowers, donations be made to St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The address is 5303 Diamondhead Circle, Diamondhead 39525.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews