In Memoriam (let us know who has passed)
Gary Wayne Michiels
November 28, 1945 – February 11, 2017
Following a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Biloxi businessman and long-time Mississippi Gulf Coast broadcaster Gary Michiels passed away peacefully the evening of February 11, 2017, at the Biloxi Veterans Administration Community Living Center. Michiels, 71, born in Alexandria, Louisiana, had been a Biloxi resident since first being stationed at Keesler Air Force Base as a young officer in the late 1960s.
A graduate of Louisiana State University, Michiels left Baton Rouge for the Air Force and was assigned to lead an electronics squadron at Keesler, a position that ultimately led to a tour in Vietnam and a Bronze Star for his service.
Michiels left the military after Vietnam and retuned to his career in radio, a passion he had nurtured since his first radio job at age 14. Michiels’ professional radio career spanned five decades and took him briefly to Meridian, Mississippi, and to Pensacola, Florida but always brought him back to Biloxi. Michiels’ career in radio was that of an on-air personality, sales manager, station manager, and programmer. As a programmer, he formatted the first soft rock radio station on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Lite107, in the late ’80s. As an owner/operator he revived the legendary Gulf Coast frequency of WVMI 570-AM by creating the area’s first news/talk-formatted radio station. At its peak in 1998, WVMI employed over two-dozen on-air personalities, local reporters, sales associates, and support staff. A graduate of the M.B.A. program from the University of Southern Mississippi, Michiels intertwined his radio career with multiple stints as a professor of business administration at William Carey Collage. Michiels touched the lives of countless people who will remember him as a mentor whose patient guidance and generous sharing of his wealth of knowledge helped them launch their own successful careers.
Michiels, along with his wife Lisa Michiels, published the Bay Press, formerly the Biloxi D’Iberville Press, in the early 2000s and started the Coast’s first art-focused publication, Art Gulf Coast, which the two published for three years.
Michiels was a recipient of Biloxi’s Distinguished Volunteer of the Year award and originated the popular City Desk podcast.
A resident of Seal Avenue in Biloxi, Michiels helped his community rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, working the same as he did some 40 years earlier, when as a young airman he helped the Mississippi Coast rebuild after Hurricane Camille.
A man of quiet fortitude who gave unwavering support to the causes he took to heart, Michiels was an advocate for historic preservation and local authenticity. He constantly fought to make Biloxi’s unique culture a driving consideration during the development boom of the 1990s and again during the city’s resurgence following Katrina… the successful effects of which will be enjoyed by future generations of Biloxians and visitors alike.
Michiels is preceded in death by his parents, Albert Michiels and Janie Reed Michiels of Alexandria, Louisiana. He is survived by his wife, Lisa Cumbest Michiels of Biloxi; his sons, Beau (Michelle) Michiels of Big Sky, Montana, and Matthew Michiels of Nashville, Tennessee; his daughter, Hillary (Randy) Hanning of New Orleans, Louisiana; his grandchildren, Mason and Ella Michiels of Big Sky, Montana, and Beau and R.J. Hanning of New Orleans, Louisiana; and one brother, Leonard Michiels of Alexandria, Louisiana.
In lieu of flowers the family ask you to make donations to Nativity BVM Elementary School: 1046 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530 or to Alzheimer’s Mississippi: 855 S. Pear Orchard Road, Suite 501, Ridgeland, MS 39157.
The funeral will take place on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at Nativity Cathedral in Biloxi at 11 a.m. with visitation from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Interment will be held at Caswell Springs Cemetery in Wade, Mississippi, at 3 p.m. The Howard Avenue Chapel of Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. View and sign register book at www.bradfordokeefe.com
Steve Dickerson 1947- 2012
Such a wonderful and good positive individual. From when he woke me up in the middle of the night to say flying saucers have landed on the Pascagoula river and he was putting on a long album to cover it (I needed to get someone to cover the rest of the all-night shift), to my last visit with Steve & Jean at the WVMI-WQID reunion in 2009.
I witnessed first hand how good he was to his family and to everyone else as well. The world would be a better place if there were more people like him.
Charles E. Ray – In 1991, he moved to Mississippi and worked at WKNN for 10 years, then he moved to work with Dowdy Broadcasting until he retired in May 2009. RIP