JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Gov. Haley Barbour on Tuesday honored seven Mississippians with the Mississippi Medal of Service for their significant contributions to improve their communities and state.
The Mississippi Medal of Service was given to former Lt. Gov. Brad Dye, former Ambassador John Palmer, former Mississippi Department of Archives and History Director Elbert Hilliard, former Meridian Mayor Al Rosenbaum, community activist Rev. John Perkins of Jackson, Tupelo businessman Harry Martin and Gulf Coast businessman Victor Mavar.
"These individuals have dedicated their lives to making Mississippi a better place to work and live for future generations," Gov. Barbour said. "Through their charitable contributions, their daily business and efforts to serve the public, these honorees exemplify what it means to be a Mississippian. They are greatly admired in their communities, and Marsha and I are glad we can honor their work."
Victor Mavar is well known in business and political circles on the Gulf Coast. He was born in Biloxi in 1926, the youngest child of Croatian immigrants. After earning a bachelor's degree in Marine Engineering at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Mavar served as an engineering officer on an ammunition supply ship in the Korean War.
Upon returning to Biloxi, Mavar worked in the family seafood processing business. In 1961, the company entered the pet food sector by manufacturing Kozy Kitten cat food. The product was a success and the family business was sold to H. J. Heinz Co. in 1988.
Mavar remained active in the business until 1993. He served as president of the American Shrimp Processors Association for two terms and was vice president of the Pet Food Institute, a national trade organization.
Mavar was an early member of the Mississippi Republican Party on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He's held numerous titles within the party and served as an effective recruiter for the party. Charles Pringle, the first Republican ever to be elected to the state House of Representatives from Harrison County, was one of Mavar's recruits. In 1972, he recruited a young Trent Lott to run for the South Mississippi Congressional seat.
Currently, Mavar serves on the Board of Directors of Hancock Bank, a position he has held since 1989, and he also is managing partner of Mavar Properties, LLC.