Vancleave family begins new year without mom, fiancee or home

By Doug Walker – bio | email

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - In the early morning hours of December 20, a Vancleave home was lost to fire.  Also lost that tragic morning was the life of 31-year-old Lisa Haygood.

Looking over the charred remains of a once loving home, James McCool remembers his fiancee Lisa as a very special person. He said she loved life and it loved her back.

"We loved boating, camping," McCool remembered. "She was a money miser. She always looked for deals for stuff for the kids, for the house."

Looking at family photographs, it's not hard to spot a woman who was devoted to her children, two-year-old Gary and 8-year-old Sara.  She was content being the best mom she could be.  She even went back into the burning home to try and save clothing for her young son.

"My little girl, she's an honor roll student. She has been since she's been in school," McCool said with pride. "She was teaching him his ABCs and 123s.  Actually, he speaks better Spanish than I do.  She was always there for them."

James and Lisa met four years ago, and were planning on getting married soon.  The fire extinguished those plans.  But with help from family and friends, James is coping as best he can.  He knows the children need him now more than ever. And he knows his love for Lisa will never die.

"It's something that will last forever.  I loved her and I still love her.  She was a great mom, she was a great person.  She would help anybody she could. She was a really wonderful person."

And as James and his children begin a new journey to rise from the ashes of the fire that took their loved one away, they are certain Lisa will be there to guide them.

The family recently hit a rough patch, and because of that, they had no insurance on the home. If you'd like to help with their recovery, an account has been set up at Keesler Federal Credit Union. Just ask for the James McCool fund.

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