BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The longest-serving state lawmaker in Mississippi’s history may be retiring, but the legacy of Biloxi Sen. Tommy Gollott’s work will last long after he leaves the capitol.
With 52 years of service, Gollott has built a lot of things from the ground up.
“I’ve always considered Sen. Gollott not just a friend but an ally in someone that always believed in what the mission of this facility was,” said Coast Coliseum Executive Director Matt McDonnell.
He said Gollott was involved from the very beginning when the legislature created the Coliseum Commission in 1968.
“Out of all the individuals that were a part of the beginning, he’s probably one of the few remaining people that we can honestly point to and say, you know what, without your help, this wouldn’t have been a reality," McDonnell said.
In 1994, he built another big thing by turning a small bureau into what is now known as the Department of Marine Resources.
“He was, I guess you could say, the father of it,” said DMR Executive Director Joe Spraggins. In building the department, Gollott helped the department begin to build the Coast.
“He’s just a super person,” Spraggins said. “I can tell you hundreds of things that he’s done. Just look at the tidelands that we get every year, and he’s been instrumental on helping us with that. He’s helped us be able to develop projects for it.”
As a state senator, Gollott had a lot of influence on a lot of different projects on the Coast, but one project in particular that friends said really defines his character is with the Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast.
As with most everything else, Gollott has been involved since its inception in 1966.
“First of all, it’s his character,” said long-time friend and club board member Jimmy Johnson. “He loves children. He loves his community and, most of all, he loves his family. If you look at how all that runs together, is that the Boys and Girls Club is a big family. There’s a lot of children out there that we reach.”
Another long-time friend, Windy Swetman Sr., called Gollott “a natural born leader.”
“We’ve been close friends, like brothers, all my life,” Swetman said. “He could be as tough as he could be nice.”