BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The Bay St. Louis bridge now carries the name of a coast icon Leo Seal Jr. who died in November at the age of 84. On Saturday, the Mississippi Department of Transportation dedicated the bridge to the former Hancock Bank president a man known for making it his life's mission to help others.
Patsy Latimer and her family were at the ceremony and proudly wore stickers that said simply "Leo." As a secretary at Hancock Bank for 19 years, Latimer says she had the privilege of working closely with Seal.
"He was a very sweet man, very humble. He was just very intelligent,"said Latimer. "You could go to him for anything you needed. It didn't matter. He was always there for you."
Seal's colleagues, friends and family members gathered at the base of the Bay St. Louis Bridge to unveil a plaque bearing its new name "The Leo W. Seal, Jr. Memorial Bridge". Much of what people had to say about Seal focused less on him as the coast banking icon and more on Seal as the man with a heart for his community.
Leo Seal's son, Lee Seal, says having a dedication to serving others goes back several family generations.
"He [Leo Seal] said that his father the late Leo Seal, Sr. had constantly instilled that in him as he was a young boy. It was important that he do the same with his family," said Lee Seal.
"More than anything else he ever did. Of all the great things I've seen him do in the business community and everything else, he really constantly reminded us it was very important to give back to your community."
MDOT officials say it's fitting tribute that a bridge which brought a separated coast back together should bear the name of a man who spent so much of his life connecting people together for the common good.
"Mr. Leo was a bridge," said Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown. "He always put people together. He put projects together. He put the community together. A bridge does that. It connects. He was always a connector. "
The late Leo Seal is recognized most for his work with the Stennis Space center. He helped bring Stennis to Hancock County in the 1960s. Before his death, he pushed for the building of the multi-million dollar Infinity Interactive Science and Education Center.