GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mary Walker Marina is the oldest continually operating business in Gautier, and the largest marina in Jackson County with 180 boat slips. For 55 years, the Mary Walker Marina has been home to Leon “Little Boy” Mendenhall, who began working for the original owner, Wally Andrews, in 1965.
“Well, it’s the people I meet, like Mr. Andrews. He raised me up,” Mendenhall said. “I worked for him for 35 years, and he was just like a father to me.”
After 75 years, the Mary Walker Marina now has its third ever owner in Jimmy Boleware.
“It’s an honor. Really it’s a dream come true,” Boleware said. “I’ve been here since I was five years old, coming down fishing with my grandfather. It’s always been a dream to own something like this.”
Boleware said he plans to modernize the marina to become a sought after destination for boat owners.
“We have a contactor coming in. We’re going to do a lot of construction, updating, changing our docks up a little bit. We have a few issues with piers and stuff that’s a little outdated,” Boleware said. “We’re going to improve it so it will hold the boats that are looking for a place to stay.”
Fishing and boating have always been a way of life for Boleware, and he hopes to share his passion with others by attracting new fishing tournaments to Gautier.
“We are going to add tournaments. We’ve already signed up with one they call the Mongo, which is a billfish tournament, and we’re an official weigh station for them,” Boleware said. “We’re going to put on some rodeos, so just about anything you catch that’s legal you can keep and weigh in, and that will be a good one for the kids.”
Boleware and his wife will live on the property allowing for them to keep a close eye on not just their business, but their new home.