Darrell Saucier was a simple man.
He was a child of the Great Depression who held onto his family’s farm in the Success community and was loathe to spend money, even on himself. The house his mother and father had owned decayed around him as he aged.
He could no longer keep up the place, so he eventually sold it, tucked the money into a savings account and settled in a modest home in Biloxi near the Veterans Administration.
Then came the stunner. When Saucier died April 23, he had $642,885 in his savings account. The account had a second name on it: The Harrison County School District.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Saucier’s donation is the largest in the district’s history.
‘An extremely smart man’
But it is really no surprise. His parents instilled in him, along with his two sisters and brother, a reverence for education.
Louis “Tally” Saucier and Nola Saucier were unable to attend college. But both of them were lifelong learners. Tally Saucier, also called “Slim,” was a farmer, master carpenter and a math whiz. Nola Saucier owned her own business, a rarity in those days. She reupholstered furniture.
Community service was ingrained in family life. The Sauciers gave food to the needy and donated supplies to school children too poor to afford paper and pencils. Nola Saucier even rescued discarded furniture and revived it for families who could not afford their own.
As a child, Darrell Saucier suffered from Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“He was an extremely smart man,” said his niece, Karmon Carver Walker. He was also friendly and had a good sense of humor.
She said that he and his brother Buddy were drafted into the Army as young men but never went to war. Darrell Saucier later worked for the government and also was a carpenter, his niece said.
He married once and divorced but never remarried and never had children. He did like the ladies, though, his niece said, and always seemed to have a girlfriend.
He took care of his mother after his father died and stayed on the farm, where his parents had once kept a garden large enough that residents could come and pay to pick vegetables, or pecans from their orchard.
Darrell Saucier was not much of a farmer. He did still have the orchard where people could pick pecans.
Help for needy students
After a car accident, Saucier had to spend time in rehab because he had broken his neck. When he got out, he decided to sell the farm, one of two his parents had owned.
Saucier moved in recent years to the house in Biloxi.
His nieces and nephews hope the school district spends his money wisely. Karmon Walker has urged residents on the Citizens of Saucier Facebook page to hold the school district accountable for the money, which the district has placed in a special account.
She said her uncle and grandparents would have wanted the money spent on teachers and students. On the Facebook page, a number of residents have mentioned needs such as air conditioning for school buses and mats to replace the 20-plus-year-old ones the high school wrestling team is using.
“This needs to go to teachers and students,” Walker said. “There are poor students that teachers are actually having to buy supplies for out of their own pockets. That shouldn’t be.”