Former Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway dead at 79

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Former Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway has died. According to city spokesman Vincent Creel, Holloway passed away at his home around 1 a.m. Tuesday following months of illness. He was Biloxi's longest-serving mayor, first elected Mayor in 1993 and serving until February 2015, when he resigned for health reasons. He was 79.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker released the following statement after learning about Holloway's passing:

A.J. Holloway was a force for the city of Biloxi during his impressive 22-year career in public service.  As a city councilman and mayor, he helped revive the region's economy and later was instrumental in the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina.  He was also a standout college football player, helping Ole Miss win a national championship in 1960.  Gayle and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his wife, Macklyn, and their entire family.

He was first elected mayor in 1993 after a term on the city council. Some may forget it was a close election, with a recount.

Holloway's time as mayor began less than year after the first casino opened in Biloxi. He is credited with leading the city through its greatest period of growth, thanks to his management of millions of dollars in revenue generated by the casinos. During Holloway's five terms the city built four new schools and numerous other public buildings, modernized and grew the police and fire departments to keep up with the growth in the city.

MS Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves sent his condolences.

On August 29, 2005, Holloway rode out Hurricane Katrina at city hall, watching the storm surge from the Gulf and the Back Bay engulf the peninsula. Holloway called it "our tsunami." When the water receded, Holloway helped lead Biloxi's recovery - what he called Reviving the Renaissance. A few weeks after the Katrina, Holloway showed then-president George W. Bush the massive damage: some 6,000 homes and businesses destroyed and the city's largest employer and revenue source, the gaming and tourism industry, decimated.

Millions of federal dollars and thousands of volunteers went to work rebuilding Biloxi and the entire coast, but a move Holloway made just two months before the storm proved to be key in Biloxi's recovery. It was a $10 million business interruption insurance policy that replaced some of the casino revenue lost.

Holloway took pride in sharing the good things about Biloxi, and the accomplishments of the people who build the community and call it home.

Making speeches wasn't his favorite part of being mayor but he always closed those speeches the same way, with a reaffirming wish for the people of Biloxi. He would say, "God Bless you and God Bless Biloxi."

Holloway was a proud graduate of Biloxi High School and the University of Mississippi where he played football on the 1960 national championship team. The former mayor is survived by his wife Macklyn, and their two children and four grandchildren.

On Facebook, the City of Biloxi announced Holloway's funeral arrangements. Visitation will be on Friday, June 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Nativity BVM Cathedral, followed by a Mass of Christian burial at noon. He will be laid to rest at Southern Memorial Park.

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