Hurricane Katrina

Myra Coleman Booker, 42, Biloxi

If her son was playing football, if the Soul Patrol was dancing, if one of her city league teams was on, Myra Booker was there with her cheers, her endearing goofiness, sometimes her pompoms and always her encouragement.

Children were her life.

The last thing the 42-year-old Biloxian did was hand a child to her fiance as Katrina waters rushed up the two-story house near Back Bay. It disintegrated after the last of seven children --- ages 2 to 16 --- were removed and set on trees. Then "Neicee" disappeared with the house.

Joe Thompson, the man she was to marry, moved the survivors to a floating roof that wedged between two trees.

"She saved seven kids," said niece Alisha Reid of Biloxi, now with the survivors in Gautier. "If you ask me stories about her, saving my four kids is the best story I can tell. Any story before that just doesn't compare."

Booker was always doing things with her three children and extended family. She also coached basketball, softball and other sports, and was a lot more than a cook for youngsters in Harrison County Head Start.

Two of her own were Soul Patrol, a dance group that won attention when they performed or rode Mardi Gras floats. Booker was right there with them.

"Her car or mine was always breaking down, so we'd try to pile up in one," Reid said. "There was a lot of laughter."

--- Kat Bergeron

Myra Booker devoted her life to children.

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