BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Former Biloxi mayor Danny Guice Sr., who helped integrate the local government and led the city during the devastation of Hurricane Camille in 1969, died Thursday. He was 92.
Danny Guice Jr. said his father died at home. The elder Guice was a state legislator before serving three terms as mayor, from 1961 to 1973. He later served as a county court judge.
Guice served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1956 to 1960, working to establish the state Port of Gulfport and to build a bridge over Biloxi Bay to connect the city to Ocean Springs.
He was elected mayor a year after black residents staged a wade-in to protest segregated beaches. Dr. Gilbert Mason, a black physician who was a prominent civil rights leader in Biloxi, wrote in a memoir that black residents helped Guice defeat the two-term incumbent mayor, Laz Quave, and that Guice became the first Biloxi mayor to appoint black residents to city boards and commissions.
Guice was just beginning his third term as mayor when Camille struck. During an event marking the 45th anniversary of monster storm, Guice recalled that he and his family were vacationing in Destin, Florida, in August 1969 when they heard the hurricane might be headed in that direction. The Guice family returned home to Biloxi, and he took his wife dancing at the local Broadwater Beach hotel.
“We heard that the doggone storm had turned around and was going to come into the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and it didn’t give us very much time to prepare. The next night, as a matter of fact, why, it was on us,” Guice recalled in a video posted to the city of Biloxi’s Facebook page.
The morning after Camille, the mayor walked where homes and seafood factories had been wiped away.
“You couldn’t believe the damage that we had on the front beach in Biloxi,” Guice said. “The debris was maybe 10 feet high on the side of the roads where these factories had been working.”
He said workers came from across south Mississippi, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, to help the Mississippi Gulf Coast clear debris.
Guice was a Harrison County Court judge from 1977 to 1990.
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