Here is the eulogy that Mayor A.J. Holloway presented at the funeral of former City Commissioner Pete Elder, who died in April 1997.
He served as the city’s payroll cerk at the time of his death. Yesterday, we had a meeting in City Hall about the proposed school bond
issue. It was a day full of irony. On one hand, we were talking about improving our school system here in Biloxi, helping prepare our young people for the 21st Century. On the other hand, we had the
flags lowered to half staff throughout the city to mark the passing of Pete Elder, who as City Commissioner of Finance and Education, helped lead and oversee the construction of a new Biloxi High School
38 years ago.
Some people might look at this as a passing of the torch from one generation to the other. And IT IS to a degree. But the difference is that Pete Elder was a man of both
generations. Pete loved this city, her people and City Hall. It was a heartfelt relationship that began early in his life and continued to the day of his death. Working for the City of Biloxi and with
its citizens was one of the great loves of his life.
In addition to overseeing the construction of the new school, and Howard Memorial Hospital and Biloxi Municipal Stadium, he even signed the
paychecks for the public school teachers in Biloxi. That’s the kind of man he was dedicated to this city. For 45 years, he was THE voice of the Biloxi Municipal Stadium. He was as much a part of the game
as the coaches or players. I think the reason he described each play was so that the individual players, especially for the home side, would be acknowledged for their efforts.
Pete continued his
work for the city even through his sunset years. In 1977, at age 57, he came to work in the Finance Department, overseeing the payroll for our 500-plus city employees. He looked forward to coming to work
everyday, and being a part of the many changes and improvements being made in our city.
"It’s a totally different ball game now," he once said. "There were only three elected
officials back when I was in office. Now you have all of these wards. You can’t even compare it to the way it was back then. Our problems were much smaller. Now the problems are much bigger primarily
because the city has gotten enormously larger, which in turn makes the problems that much larger. But much was still accomplished."
With all of Pete’s accomplishments as a public servant, I
believe we saw the real measure of his success last night, with dozens and dozens of people waiting in line at his wake at Bradford-O’Keefe. And again here today, in this cathedral, with all of you here,
and especially, his proud family. To the family members and many friends here today, I ask that you take a moment to look beyond the sad feelings. Celebrate Pete Elder’s lifetime of accomplishments.
Celebrate the fact that Pete Elder was a proud and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his love of sports. I was honored a couple of
years ago when Pete asked me to introduce him at his induction into the National Football Hall of Fame. Of course, football was his second favorite sport. Like the bumper sticker said on his car: "I
really, really love golf." I remember when I was in high school, he and a few other people were out at Biloxi High just about every day watching the team practice.
And he was among a loyal
group of fans who traveled to see everyone of the team’s away games. I have to admit that I was playing for Biloxi High when the team got into the big fight with Gulfport and ended the rivalry for many
Players were punching each other on the field, and people were starting to spill out of the stands and onto the field. And with all of this confusion going on, Pete Elder was at the PA
system. "Play the national anthem. Play the national anthem," he hollered. I asked him later, Why were you saying that? He said, "Well, I saw everyone fighting and everything, and did you
ever notice when they play the national anthem, everyone stands still."
Pete loved to reminisce about the old days. He was proud of the job that he and Laz Quave and Dominic Fallo did when
they were in office. He once said that he and Laz and Dominic were accused of getting along too well.
But that’s how Pete was — he simply enjoyed public service. To his co-workers, he was just
Pete’s family and his friends can take great satisfaction and great pride in knowing that his hard work and dedication helped make Biloxi the great city that she is today. We’ll miss
you, Pete. And, I’msure Pete is listening to us today, with a smile on his face and saying: "You bet."
God bless, you, Pete Elder, and God bless Biloxi.