Former Gulfport Mayor Ken Combs died Tuesday night at the age of 77. Combs had been fighting lung cancer, but also had a number of other health problems over the years, including heart problems and a stroke.
Combs served three terms as mayor. He was elected mayor in June 1989, re-elected in 1993, but lost in 1997. He was elected to office again in June 2001, becoming the first mayor in Gulfport's history to return to the office after having lost an election.
At 17, Combs began his military career with the U.S. Marine Corps. He later served with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Air Force. He retired from the Air Force in January 1989 as a Brigadier General.
To pay tribute to the three term Gulfport mayor, city hall lowered its American flag. The fire department draped a flag at the top its ladder truck, and parked it next to Highway 90.
Current Mayor Brent Warr said Combs will always be remembered as one of the city's strongest leaders.
"He took a city from a very struggling financial position, and after 12 years of being mayor, left it in the best financial condition in the city's recent history, which is something I certainly appreciate," Warr said.
Combs' former administrative assistant Rebecca Kajdan remembers the former mayor as "an absolute southern gentleman."
"He had such an amazing admiration for city workers, and he stood behind them and he believed in what they did. It was a pleasure to work for him. It really was. It was an absolute honor," Kajdan said.
Ken Combs is survived by his wife, five children, 11 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Visitation will be Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gulfport. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Burial will take place at Floral Hills Memorial Cemetery.