Dr. James Edward Alexander, age 90, of Ocean Springs, MS, passed away peacefully on June 4, 2023 with family lovingly by his side.
Born in Alexandria, LA to the late John D. and Leona Alexander, James was preceded in death by his brothers, Laurence Montgomery and John D. Alexander, Jr.; sisters, Marjorie Alexander Byrd, Katherine Alexander Trahan, and Annie Laurie Alexander Curry; his granddaughter, Sara Alexander Porter; and great grandson, CJ Porter.
Among Dr. Alexander’s many accomplishments was the building of the “Alexander homestead” in Langley Point, where he and the late Marjorie Lopez Alexander raised their pride and joy of ten children- James Edward (Brenda) Alexander, Jr., Joseph Robert (Mary) Alexander, Melissa Mary (Robert) Stanfield, Richard Donovan (Pat) Alexander, Joan Marjorie (William) Strayham, Melanie Ann Alexander, Andrew Stephen (Karla) Alexander, Lynn Beverly (James) Miller, Maria Theresa (Jeffrey) Baumann, and Elizabeth Cecelia Alexander. This ever-growing legacy includes 27 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.
After graduating from Biloxi High School in 1950, James studied medicine at Tulane University where his training included providing care to inmates at Angola Prison and working in the hospital mortuary between studies. After receiving his Medical Doctor degree, he opened his general practice in North Biloxi (now D’Iberville), MS where he was the sole practitioner in the area for many years, making house calls, delivering babies, performing surgeries, and providing excellent care to most of its residents. With a strong belief that all deserved the best care regardless, he often received payment in the form of goods, services, farm produce, or just good faith. His practice, which included service at Howard Memorial Hospital (later Biloxi Regional Medical Center), continued until retirement in 2003.
Believing in living life to the fullest, Dr. Alexander was crowned “King d’Iberville” in 1966, where his two eldest sons proudly served as pages. The year following his reign, he served as President of the Coast Carnival Association.
As a youth, James met his mentor and friend, Lynden Bowring, who taught him the love of Deer Island and the Gulf of Mexico, and that he was a sailor at heart. While serving as deckhand on the racing yacht, “Windjammer” in World Cup regattas, he found his feet for water and his soul. One of his greatest joys throughout life was participating in local yacht races and teaching his children to sail, fish, and love the Gulf as he did.
Having a tirelessly creative mind and wonderfully gifted hands, Dr. Alexander paired his skill of homebuilding with his love of sailing. This culminated into the art of boat building for which he received awards in the “Wooden Boat Division”. The beautiful fruits of his labor can be found in his generous donation to the Gulf Coast Maritime Museum-- “Coquina”, a replica Bahama boat. The mast of this craft was hand hewn by James from timber that was specially selected as it was descended from the reforestation efforts of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville in 1700. This was one of his favorite topics and projects to share with the world. One of his greatest accolades was the inclusion of his beautiful “Coquina” in the critically acclaimed movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Always found reading, researching and learning, one of Dr. Alexander’s favorite books was the life of Dr. Alton Ochsner, under whom he studied at Tulane University. He did not just ‘read’ of Ochsner, he ‘lived’ it. His other chosen reading and greatest pleasures was researching his Alexander family history and genealogy. This endeavor found him on a trek through Kentucky and Virginia visiting historical landmarks bringing back many more tales and lessons of the Alexander Family’s role in the Revolutionary War. His ability to recall names, dates, locations and all relevant facts was second to none. This was especially true regarding families along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He knew all the people, their lineage, their children, life events and dates-often better than people knew about their own family members!
As if all these endeavors were not enough, Dr. Jim was also a farmer, growing vegetables, raising black angus cattle, chickens, doves and even beekeeping. If he didn’t know it, he learned it, did it, then taught it. Often citing that “doctor” is derived from the Latin word “docere” meaning “to teach”, that is what Dr. Jim did. Virtually everyone that crossed his path was his student walked away saying “I could listen to him talk for hours; he knows everything!”
Dr. James Alexander was a man of ambition, energy, wisdom, continuous learning and ultimately love. In his final days, his greatest joy and peace was found in watching the lives of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as they shared in his respect and love for the water, throwing the net, fishing and boating. He often showed that he truly was a child at heart while looking for lost fiddler crabs, creating craft projects and playing ball with puppies. The feel of the warm sun and sea breeze on his skin was a tonic for his soul to the very end. But moreover, he learned the joy of a warm hug, the reward of sharing a kind word of gratitude, and the love of family were all the riches a man could ever desire.
The family would like to express their gratitude to SRHS Hospice of Light for ensuring his final journey was “smooth sailing”.
In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy of Biloxi, MS are encouraged.
Visitation will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Friday, June 9, 2023 beginning at 10:00 am, followed by the Funeral Mass at 12:00 noon. Family will gather for interment of ashes at Biloxi City Cemetery and ask all to join them in a Celebration of Life at the “Alexander Homestead” in Langley Point.
Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Dr. James Edward Alexander.