Gilich: Biloxi lost a great one, America lost a hero

“We’ve lost a great Biloxian, someone who did so much for this community in so many ways, and the country has lost an American hero,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich says of the passing of former Mayor Jeremiah J. “Jerry” O’Keefe.

O’Keefe, the country’s youngest World War II flying ace, former state legislator, two-term Biloxi mayor, well-known businessman and philanthropist, died last night shortly before 3 a.m. Mayor Gilich ordered flags at Biloxi municipal facilities lowered to half staff to mark the passing.

“Jerry O’Keefe was one of the last of America’s Greatest Generation,” said Gilich, who as a youngster delivered groceries from the grocery store to the O’Keefe home, which was at the site of the present-day Doubletree, at Hopkins Boulevard and U.S. 90. A young “FoFo” Gilich also served as a page to O’Keefe in the state legislature.

“I’ve been close to the O’Keefe family all of my life,” the mayor said, “and today I’m gaining more and more appreciation for Jerry O’Keefe’s eight years as mayor.

“We can take great comfort in the fact that we were all able to share in Jerry’s life, to benefit from his service to country and community. Today our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Jerry was a big part of the fabric of our community, and it’s comforting to know that he has such a large family to carry on the O’Keefe legacy.”


New walkway, ramp taking shape at Hiller Park

A new $405,000 walkway and overlook at the western entrance to Hiller Park is headed toward an October completion.

The 10-foot-wide, 1,700-foot walkway, which runs alongside a bayou at the western end of the park, is the last phase of a sidewalk project that connects Popp’s Ferry Road to Hiller Park. The project includes a retaining wall to face the bayou as well as a pedestrian bridge over a canal leading to the Hiller Park pond.

“We’re doing more and more to make our city a more walkable community,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said, “and this particular walkway, with its ADA-accessible ramp that overlooks a popular fishing spot, is a special place. It creates a safe environment for walkers, joggers and anyone using the park.”

The $405,000 cost also includes a $78,500 Tidelands grant.

Advanced Construction & Development is the contractor for the job.
See photos from the walkway construction


News and notes

I-110 update:  Inspections of the I-110 draw bridge continue tonight with work and lane closures on the southbound, right hand lanes beginning at 8.  Lane closures, along with workers, will be in the area through 5 tomorrow morning. To see more about road closures and traffic advisories, click here.

National appointment for Boney:  Fire Chief Joe Boney has been appointed to represent Mississippi for two years on the Executive Board of the Southeastern division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs as the as the Mississippi Director.  Boney is filling a vacancy due to the retirement of a previous board member.  To see more about the organization, click here.

Flood relief luncheon:  Members of the Biloxi Fire Department will be taking a day trip to Tangipahoa Parish, La. Thursday to assist the local fire department in serving about 500 meals to residents of the parish.  This trip is part of ongoing efforts by the fire department and city fire museum to assist flood victims in Louisiana.  You can be part of the effort, too. Donations can be made through a GoFundMe account that has been set up by the fire museum.  To see the online account, click here.