Biloxi native James S. Rainey II found ways to remain determined and overcome obstacles by staying busy and using his sense of humor.
Rainey, 53, was a former caterer and decorator who developed health problems but remained active, optimistic and quick to crack a joke. He lost a leg to diabetes and was undergoing dialysis, and was on his fifth electric wheelchair.
"He would get on the beachfront and wait for the city bus with a lift to come by and pick him up and off he'd go to the mall," said his mother, Ruby Hawkins Rainey.The eldest of 13 children, Rainey was the first black Eagle Scout of Biloxi Troop #54.
"It was like a landmark for him," his mother said.
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Rainey worked at Broadwater Beach Hotel for 20 years. He also operated his own business, J.R.'s Catering and Decorating Service, from his home on Fayard Street and later lived in the Bayou Auguste section of the Hope VI project that aimed to revitalize East Biloxi.
A father to five children, Rainey loved to decorate as much as he loved to cook. But most of all, he loved to make people laugh.
"People loved to be around him," his mother said.