Samuel Francis Tart and his youngest son, Matthew, were inseparable, always laughing and playing together in their Pass Christian home.
The family believes that Tart tried to save 2-year-old Matthew by putting him on a high shelf as the Katrina surge entered.
The 51-year-old father grew up in Gulfport, moved to the Pass a few years ago and loved his longtime job as oceanographer at the Stennis Space Center. With degrees in biology and chemistry from Jackson State University, friends and family remember him as smart but also someone who loved life.
"It will be all right," his favorite expression punctuated with a giant smile, continues to comfort family and friends.
Cicely Tart, a daughter who lives in Meridian, describes him as "a cool, laid-back kind of man who made me laugh a lot." Another daughter, Sherita Taylor of Fayette, remembers how supportive he was when as a scared teenager she told him she was pregnant.
Sam Tart just loved children.
He and his wife Genoveva - who worked during the storm as a medical caregiver - adored their 2-year-old son.
John Matthew, with curly hair and a smile that matched his dad's, was a pistol.
"Matthew was a type of baby that was real active," said Taylor. "He wasn't the type to get on your nerves. You couldn't get mad at him because the stuff he did was really funny."