Daniel D. “Danny” Guice Sr., who devoted a lifetime of distinguished public service to his beloved City of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, died in his sleep Thursday, April 13, 2017 at his home in Biloxi. He was 92.
Mr. Guice had the distinction of holding office in all three branches of Mississippi government – executive, legislative and judicial – serving as a state representative from Harrison County, as Mayor of Biloxi and as a Harrison County Court judge. His entire career of public service, driven by a deep love and appreciation for his city and its people, was dedicated to promoting economic progress and development.
Mr. Guice first became interested in politics in 1952 while serving as Harrison County chairman of Democrats for Eisenhower and as president of the Biloxi Jaycees. Four years later, he was elected to the Mississippi Legislature as Harrison County’s representative, where he helped lead the passage of measures to fund a new Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge, and to create both the Harrison County Development Commission and the State Port Authority in Gulfport.
He would say that he was an original “Tea Party” candidate, as friends and supporters in his 1961 mayoral campaign held numerous tea parties to promote his candidacy – even wearing tea bags dangling from their hats in endorsement. As Biloxi’s mayor, he worked tirelessly to build a strong social and economic partnership with Keesler Air Force Base. He served several years on the administrative board of the National League of Cities, the executive committee of the United States Conference of Mayors and was president of the Mississippi State Municipal Association.
Re-elected in 1965 and again in 1969, Mr. Guice was the only incumbent mayor on the Gulf Coast in August 1969 when Hurricane Camille wreaked death and millions of dollars in devastation. His leadership in working with the Coast’s new mayors, U.S. Sens. John C. Stennis and James O. Eastland, U.S. Rep. William M. Colmer and President Richard M. Nixon helped secure needed recovery funding for all Coast communities within 60 days of the destruction. After four years of directing intense post-hurricane recovery and rebuilding, Mr. Guice retired as mayor in 1973 and returned to the full-time practice of law in the firm of Rushing & Guice, co-founded by his father William Lee Guice in 1908.
In 1977, he was appointed by Gov. Cliff Finch to a Harrison County Court judgeship, which he held more than 23 years through five consecutive elections. He served eight years on the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. He retired from the bench in 2000.
Mr. Guice was born Nov. 30, 1924, to William Lee Guice and Lee Dicks Guice in the family home on Seal Ave., the sixth of eight children. He attended Lopez Elementary School and Biloxi High School, where he played varsity football and was inducted into the National Honor Society. In high school and college, he worked at Westergaard Boat Works, the U.S. Post Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of Keesler, the military installation he would enthusiastically promote years later as mayor.
He graduated from Biloxi High in 1942 and attended the University of Mississippi, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity, transferring after one year to Tulane University, where he was president of the Panhellenic Council and president of the KA chapter. He received his Juris Doctorate in 1947 and taught government at Biloxi High before joining Rushing & Guice. In 1948, he met and married the love of his life, Margaret Barrett, who would be by his side for the next 58 years until her death in 2006. As Biloxi’s first couple, they welcomed and entertained hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors to the city, including military and political dignitaries, celebrities and tourists. He served several years on the Harrison County Tourism Commission.
In 1962 he was honored as Biloxi’s Outstanding Citizen by the Biloxi Lions Club.
A man of deep faith, Mr. Guice was a longtime member of the Biloxi First United Methodist Church. He was also a member of both the York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonic organizations and the Wahabi Shrine Temple in Jackson. His civic memberships of many years included the Elks Club and the Biloxi Rotary Club and the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. He was king of two Mardi Gras organizations, Les Masquees and Billikens.
His love for Biloxi – its people, history and culture -- was surpassed only by his love for his family.
He and Margaret Guice were parents of three children: Carolyn Guice Singletary (Joe H. Singletary); Daniel D. Guice Jr. (Janie Bertrand Guice); and Christopher Barrett Guice (Lisa Reeves Guice); seven grandchildren: Clayton Russell Singletary (Holly Coats Singletary); Lorin Singletary Jones (Shawn Michael Jones), Daniel D. Guice III (Valerie Bamburg Guice), Nicholas B. Guice (Kimberly Dodez Guice); Marlo Elizabeth Guice, Christopher Barrett Guice Jr., and Cathryn Blair Guice. Also, seven great-grandchildren: Madeline Kate Singletary, Ashton Coats, Elijah Guice Foley, Roxy Gray Guice, Margaret Lee Jones, Lillian Rose Jones, and Mazie Rae Guice.
He is survived by three siblings, Miriam Guice Howell, Dr. John David Wynne Guice (Nancy Martin Guice) and Saul Edward Holmes Guice (Anne Sparks Guice), and many nieces and nephews.
Mr. Guice was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, and four siblings: William Lee Guice Jr., Martha Rebecca Guice Harrison, Jacob Davis Guice, and Stephen L. Guice.
The Guice family would like to express appreciation for the excellent care given Mr. Guice by Dr. Ben W. Cheney, his nurse, Becky, and two special, pampering caregivers, Kay Rogers and Judy Lamey.
In his memory any memorials may be sent to Biloxi First United Methodist Church Building Fund, 14220 Shriners Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39532.
Visitation will be held on Monday, April 17, 2017 at the Howard Avenue Chapel of Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Funeral service will be held on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at Gruich Community Center, 591 Howard Avenue, Biloxi, MS 39530. Friends are invited to visit 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Old Biloxi Cemetery.