HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The communities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland are remembering the first Mississippian to die from complications due to COVID-19. Howard Pickens, 63, is described as a special person who had a passion for his profession.
Pickens owned a barbershop in Bay St. Louis named for his signature style “Fade one.”
“He had an awesome fade, that’s the bottom line, he was a good barber,” said Constance St. Julien - Mims, a friend of Pickens.
Howard Pickens died this week at Ochsner Northshore Hospital in Slidell. St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said he had underlying medical conditions that made him more susceptible to the virus.
Owner of Unique Transitions barber college in Waveland Constance St. Julien-Mims was friends with Pickens and saw him for the final time just a few weeks ago. She said he was instrumental in helping her start her business.
“When I was thinking about doing the barber school from the very beginning he offered me help in any way he possibly could," Julien- Mims said.
Many of Pickens’ customers would also visit Tina Franco’s business, Bay-Wave Barber Shop. Although Franco didn’t personally know Pickens, she did know his reputation.
“I never heard a bad word about the man; he was an awesome guy,” Franco said. “I’m upset because it’s one of ours, a person here locally like this is upsetting.”
The coronavirus is a topic of conversation around the globe, and now the pandemic hits home in Hancock County.
“It’s one thing to know that it’s out there, but when it’s somebody you see regularly that you know personally for that to hit and you know their lifestyle and the type of person they were it can happen to anybody,” Julien-Mims said. “It’s a very real situation.”
Julien-Mims has closed her business for the time being, and she’s hopeful others will follow her example.
“Everybody is trying to make a living, but the bottom line is we don’t need to be selfish and think about ourselves,” she said. “We need to think about the world as a whole right now and spreading it to everybody else is not something you’d want to do.”
The coroner in Louisiana said Pickens started receiving treatment for complications one week ago.