WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Friday, friends and family said a final goodbye to Wiggins Mayor Joel Miles. He died less than a week ago after a short battle with COVID-19.
The outdoor funeral service at Blalock Park was fitting for a man whose imprint on life in Stone County can’t be contained to four walls. The emotions of losing the beloved mayor to a horrible disease still raw for both family and long-time friends and associates.
“It’s a shock to us,” said Wiggins Alderman Ron Dyal. “We thought he was coming home. And next thing we know, he’s at Memorial and then passed away. We’re still recovering in city hall.”
And Dyal says recovery will be difficult.
“We’ve got a good group that’s working together and taking things forward,” said Dyal. “But it’s going to take some time to recovery from the leadership that we’ve lost.”
That’s a leadership well known by Inita Owen, superintendent of Stone County Schools.
“He was very established in the community,” said Owen. “People respected his opinion and his values. They came to him quite often and he was a natural-born leader.”
Tom White said his friend’s battle with COVID-19 has given him a different perspective.
“When Joel passed away, it hit really, really close to home,” said White. “You know, I have become more aware of wearing masks, other people wearing masks, and that this is a real thing.”
But it’s also the true personality of the Stone County native that will leave an even longer impression.
“Joel had a good heart,” White said. “He thought about others a lot more than he thought about himself. He was a great friend to me. Even when he became mayor, he was still Joel.”
After a funeral procession downtown, there was a private burial. Miles was 67 years old.