Hurricane Katrina

Leroy Hilber, 64, Pass Christian

Leroy Hilber was an animal lover, and he spent his retirement years working with abused animals and wounded wildlife.

Hilber worked at the Humane Society of South Mississippi until 2003 caring for dogs, and fixing up the kennel.

Leroy, 64, and his wife, Chieko, 75, died at their Pass Christian home on Wenmar Avenue as Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Coast.

Kyle Alsleben, a supervisor at the humane society kennel, said Leroy, a military veteran, worked for several years at the kennel and often donated a portion of his paycheck to pay for supplies, training for coworkers and books on animal care. Leroy also took time to volunteer with the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preserve Society.

"This was his fun job, as he explained it," Alsleben said.

Leroy had undergone a tracheotomy and could not speak. To communicate, he wrote everything down. But his disability did not stop him from caring for animals.

"It seemed like he could still communicate with the animals," Alsleben said. "It was like they knew he couldn't talk. They communicated telepathically."

Alsleben said in the mornings before the kennel opened, Leroy would occasionally take some of the Chows out to run and play.

"He was a Chow person," Alsleben said. "He will definitely be missed by the animal community."