Family Of Buried Hurricane Victim Visits "Will" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Family Of Buried Hurricane Victim Visits "Will"

Rabbi Myrna Matsa had words of prayer for what until recently were Harrison County's two unidentified hurricane victims.

"Exalted, compassionate God, grant infinite rest," her prayer started.

One of the victims buried at Pine Grove cemetery was simply known as Will. The other was called Strength. Nobody knows who's in Strength's coffin. And for nearly two years, nobody identified Will either. And then Charles Blair came to town. He spent almost two years wondering if his father survived Hurricane Katrina. So three months ago, he drove from Georgia to Gulfport and started asking questions.

"Instead of looking for a man that might still be alive, I came here to find a body," he said at the cemetery.

After meeting with Harrison County's coroner, Blair found what he was looking for.

"Katrina's unknown victim Will is in fact my father," he announced.

Seventy-eight-year-old James Blair was buried in Will's grave at the Pine Grove cemetery in Gulfport.

"I know my father is not the only victim here. Katrina has claimed the lives of many. My family and I grieve not only for our father but for all Katrina victims," the victim's son said.

On the second anniversary of the storm, and Mr. Blair's death, his children unveiled a new marker at the Will and Strength gravesite.

"You didn't even know his name. Still, this community was there for him. And for that, we will always be grateful," said Blair.

His brother, Robert Wallace, was also at the two year commemoration.

"The people here on the gulf coast are brave and strong. And I'm proud that my father and 'Strength' represent the people here," Wallace said.

Community leaders joined hands with the Blair family for this final tribute. The moment provided a sense of relief for two sons who had the will and the strength to find their father.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove ended the service with these words about the elder Blair, "May he continue to represent the will of south Mississippi and may he rest in peace."

Ninety seven Harrison County residents died during Katrina. Just one remains unidentified. County leaders vow to identify Strength, so one more family can feel the comfort of a grief stricken community.

By Brad Kessie

Powered by Frankly