Pier Walk collects food for the needy, honors fathers everywhere

Pier Walk collects food for the needy, honors fathers everywhere

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Call it food for thought.

For Ken Combs Jr., this day is about doing what you were taught to do.

“When I’m doing this, you know, I know that Dad is proud,” he said. “And he likes me and his family recognizing that Feed My Sheep is an organization that is needed in this community, and it needs help.”

The annual Father’s Day Pier Walk at the Ken Combs Pier is one of two Pier Walks that have been held each year since 2012 in memory of Ken Combs Sr., the former mayor of Gulfport.

The event collects food for the needy, but it has and always will be about honoring parents.

Duane Hills chose this pier on this day as one of his first explorations since moving to Gulfport from California with his wife and little girl.

“I think fondly on this day and honor him,” he said. “I spoke to him earlier just to let him know, dad, thank you for being the dad that you are, and I am the man that I am largely because of my dad. So, a lot of what I give to my daughter, my dad gave to me.”

While this is a time Combs encourages others to honor their fathers on this day, he takes time to honor his.

“Dad was a very giving man, very loving, very generous,” Combs said. “He was larger than life. When he was elected to public office, everywhere we went, people respected him, and we admired that.

“He taught us unconditional love,” he added. “Dad was a loving father, but he was also very firm, and we respected my father and my mother very much and out of respect comes love.”

There aren’t many photos left after Hurricane Katrina took most of them, but there is a special one he looks at often.

“One that really stands out in my mind is my granddaughter Annabell is at his monument touching his face,” he said. “You see, Dad never met his great-grandchildren. That picture touches me, and I think it touches a lot of people.”

He added one final thought.

“Honor your mother and father because you won’t have them forever," he said.

The pier walks began in 2012, five years after Ken Combs Sr. died.

The other pier walk that Combs organizes for food collections is on Mother’s Day.

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