Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Croatian arrivals from Sinj, Croatia-Gillich and Gilich.

 

 Gilich-Gillich Family Plot-Biloxi Cemetery

[image made December 2012 by Ray L. Bellande]

GILICH-GILLICH

Rosa G. Gilich (1902-1980), nee Guich, was born at Milna on the island of Brac, County Split-Dalmatia, Croatia.  She married Michael Joseph "Chicago Mike" Gilich (1887-1972), a native of Sinj, County Split-Dalmatia, Croatia.  Four daughters: Lucille Gilich (b. 1925) m. Alton Sydney Wescovich (1927-2007) and Edward Charles Barq Jr. (1921-1971); Anna Mae GilichFrances Gilich m. Mr. Duke; Joseph Gilich (1922-1943); Andrew M. Gillich (b. 1924) m. Jacobina Sekul Wetzel (1913-2003); Mary Agnes Gilich (1928-2012); Michael ‘Mike’ Joseph Gilich Jr. (1930-2012) m. Marlene Redding and Frances Ann Salisbury (b. 1953); and Rudolph Gilich (1933-1933).(The Daily Herald, August 7, 1980, p. A-2)

LUCILLE GILICH

Lucille Gillich married Albert Sydney Wescovich (1927-2007) in Harrison County, Mississippi on June 21, 1944.(Harrison Co., Mississippi Circuit Court MRB 65, p. 305)

JOSEPH GILICH

Joseph Gilich (1922-1943) joined the US Navy in October 1942.  He drowned at Monterrey, California on December 10, 1943.  Joseph's corporal remains were sent to Biloxi, Mississippi for internment in the Biloxi Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, December 10, 1943, p. 10 and The Daily Herald, January 1, 1944, p. 3)

Andrew M. Gilich

Andrew M. Gilich, Sr., age 91 of Biloxi, passed away on Friday, June 27, 2014.  He was preceded in death by wife of 58 years Jacobina Sekul Wetzel Gilich; his parents Mike Sr. and Rosa Guich Gillich; his brothers, Joseph Gillich, Rudolph Gillich and Mike Gillich, Jr.; his sisters, Anna Mae Gilich and Mary Agnes Gilich; son, Stephen K. Wetzel; and a grandson, Gregory Marco Gilich. 

He is survived by sons, Jim Wetzel and Andrew “FoFo” Gilich (Serena); daughters, Andrea “Tot” Gilich, Sr. and Jaye Gilich Brice (C.A. “Buddy”); daughter-in-law, Brenda C. Wetzel; sister, Lucille Gilich Barq, all from Biloxi; and sister, Frances Gillich Duke of St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Surviving grandchildren, all from Biloxi, include James K. Wetzel (Garnette), Jamie Wetzel Morgan (Peter), Leigh Wetzel Adamson, Carol Wetzel Roybal (Mario), Stephen Kenneth Wetzel, Jr. (Dawn), Kathlene Wetzel Atkinson (Robert), Christopher Wetzel, Rachel Gilich Wade (Keith), Gretchen Marie Gilich, Andrew “Andy” Gilich (Michelle), Andrew “Red” Gilich, Jr., Johneen Gilich Buchignani (John) and Jaqueline Gilich Wilson (Aaron). His great-grandchildren are Garner Wetzel, Jarrod Bigott, Anne Roybal Migues (Jeffrey), Brennan Roybal, Stephen Roybal, Elissa Roybal, Elizabeth Wetzel, Paul Wetzel, Stephen Wetzel, Wesley Atkinson, Ashley Atkinson, Landon Atkinson, John Wetzel, Michael Wetzel, David Wetzel, William Maxwell Wade, Zachary Gilich Wade, Caroline Jaye Wilson, Ansley Madeline Gilich, and soon to arrive Joseph Andrew Buchignani. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at Noon at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral, Biloxi, with a visitation for family and friends from 10:00 AM until the Mass. Burial will follow at Biloxi City Cemetery. RiemannFamily Funeral Home is serving the family. 

Andrew Gilich Sr. was proud Croatian and Biloxian

[from The Sun Herald, June 28, 2014, p. A-4)

The family of Andrew M. Gilich Sr. had a couple of months to say goodbye before the Biloxi businessman died Friday at age 91. A funeral service will be Wednesday at Nativity BVM Cathedral in Biloxi.

Despite recently declining health, he fought to make it to his birthday Tuesday and celebrate with his children, grandchildren and extended family. He also wanted to watch baseball and see Tiger Woods make a comeback this week. Gilich was an avid golfer, one of a group from the Coast who formed Sunkist Country Club.  Since he worked all week, he golfed only on Sunday*, said his son, Andrew "FoFo" Gilich. "For a man who could only play on Sundays, he did very well," he said.

*Andrew played golf on Sunday with Alton L. Bellande, Johnny Baker, Yetta Lawrence, and Morris Knox.[Ray L. Bellande-June 2014]

These last weeks of his life gave Gilich Sr. a chance to talk about his four holes-in-one on four different courses. Gilich told his family he hit one at the old Edgewater course, one at St. Andrews, one at Gulf Hills and one at Sunkist.

He also recalled leaving Biloxi in 11th grade to fight in World War II. With his maritime roots in Biloxi, he captained a 50-foot LCM transport boat in the Philippines.

"Truly the greatest generation that he came from," his son said.

His 11th grade education took him far, but Gilich saw that education was key for his children. "There was no question I was going to college," his son said.

Together with his wife of more than 50 years, Jacobina Sekul Gilich, they ran the first grocery stores in East Biloxi -- City Hall Grocery at Main and Howard and later the Foodland Supermarket on Judge Sekul and Porter Avenue, the first in the area to have aisles and carts.

Like many Biloxi businesses leaders, both of Gilich Sr.'s parents came to South Mississippi with little money or education.

"He was very proud to be Croatian," his son said. "Innovation and intuitiveness would make you succeed."

Gilich Sr. started building apartments across Biloxi and had a very successful career, his son said. He also enjoyed a large extended family and except during the war, Gilich lived all his life in Biloxi.

FoFo said he wanted to be just like his dad. "Everything he did as a kid in high school I wanted to do," he said. His dad was on the boxing team. "I boxed," his son said.

They also played partners in the Slavic Invitational Golf Tournament for more than 30 years.

"I've got great, great memories of him," his son said. "He was a true Biloxi gentle man."

 

?MARY A. GILICH

Mary Agnes Gilich (1928-2012) was born at Biloxi, Mississippi on May 6, 1928.

 MICHAEL J.  GILICH JR.

Michael Joseph Gilich Jr., (1930-2012) was known on the Coast as "Mike and Mr. Mike". On December 23, 1951 in Harrison County, Mississippi, he married Marlene Redding, the daughter of Oliver Osborn Redding (1904-1982) and Artemise Catchot (1911-1998), the daughter of Robert F. Catchot (1889-1941) and Jennie Fryou. They were the parents of Marlene Cecile Gillich m. Robert Keith Pisarich; Tina Rose Gillich m. Britt R. Singletary; and Michael Joseph Gillich III (b. 1954) m. Sandra Leigh Suarez.(Harrison Co., Mississippi Circuit Court MRB 88, 1941, 2nd JD Circuit Court MRB 8, p. 37 and 2nd JD Circuit Court 38, p. 529)
Oliver Osborn Redding, called Osborn, was born at Crystal Springs, Mississippi on October 14, 1904, the son of Walter Armstrong Redden (1870-1935) and Francis Osborn. Several of the Redden children, among them Osborn O. Redden, adopted the name Redding because it was often misspelled by the general public because of its similar sounding. 
Mike Gillich Jr., who made his livelihood as a striptease lounge owner and was known for his role in the murders of a a politically prominent Biloxi couple, died of cancer at age 82 years on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in his Biloxi home. 
Mr. Gillich and his lounges, The Golden Nugget and Dream Room, were fixtures on Biloxi's tourist strip for decades. He used to stand in front of his beachfront building in the afternoons and watch traffic pass, or sip coffee with friends across the street at Krispy Kreme doughnuts. He also maintained an extensive network of criminal contacts in the Dixie Mafia, a loosely organized band of criminals drawn to the Coast by nightclubs and illegal gambling.

Gillich and an imprisoned criminal associate from the Dixie Mafia planned the murders of former Circuit Court Judge Vincent Jerome Sherry Jr. (1929-1987) and his wife, former Biloxi councilwoman Margaret Joyce Smith Sherry (1929-1987). A professional hitman gunned them down in their home Sept. 14, 1987.  The case brought unwanted national publicity to Biloxi, resulting two books and talk of a feature-length film.

Gillich for years denied any involvement in the murders. But he eventually identified the hitman, and implicated former Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat, Vincent Sherry's best friend, in the conspiracy. Gillich's imprisoned crony, Dixie Mafia kingpin Kirksey McCord Nix Jr., wrongly believed that money he sent to the Halat & Sherry law office had been stolen by Vincent Sherry.  Gillich, Nix and two others were convicted for their roles in the murder conspiracy in 1991. Other conspirators remained free. 

Keith Bell, then a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, started working on the case in 1989. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office kept the pressure on Gillich, hauling him back to court on marijuana trafficking and witness tampering charges.  By 1993, Bell said, Gillich was ready to talk.  "Having been an FBI agent for 25 years, including being assigned to the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices for about 10 years," Bell said, "I know firsthand how very difficult it is for someone involved in criminal activities for a lengthy period of time to suddenly switch positions and cooperate with law enforcement authorities.  "They know, as Mr. Gillich knew, it meant a total break from his previous life, friends and associates. There was no turning back.  "For Mr. Gillich's full cooperation with the federal government, I, as well as all law enforcement authorities involved with the investigation, fully appreciate what he did. I, as well as members of the Sherry family, am convinced Mr. Gillich fully realized and understood how very wrong he was for his involvement in the murders and that he did, and will forever, regret his actions." 

Bell said Gillich's attorneys, Chet and Gail Nicholson of Gulfport, advised Gillich during the legal travails that led him to become a federal witness. Gillich had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping plan the murders when he testified at a 1997 trial against the hitman and Halat, both of whom were convicted for their roles in the conspiracy.  The hitman later died in prison. Halat, who served as mayor from 1989-1993, is scheduled to be released in April 2013 from federal prison in Oakdale, La., according to the Bureau of Prisons web site.

U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering Sr. released Gillich from prison after nine years, in 2000, based on his cooperation.  Gillich spent his final years living quietly in the hometown he loved. Chet Nicholson eventually recorded a lengthy series of interviews with Gillich and his wife, Frances Arguelles. Partly based on those interviews, Nicholson wrote a fictional account of criminal exploits on the Coast, "Dream Room: Tales of the Dixie Mafia," published in 2009.  Nicholson said Gillich lived a long and very eventful life.  "Although he did some things in his lifetime that I know he later came to regret, he experienced a religious conversion later in life," Nicholson said. "While nobody can know what is in the heart of another person, I hope that he was sincere and that he is in a better place."

On November 9, 2000, Mike Gillich Jr. married Francis Ann Salisbury in Harrison County, Mississippi.(Harrison Co., Mississippi 2nd JD Circuit Court 56, p. 118)

                                                                                                   R UDOLPH GILICH

Rudolph Gilich (1933-1933) was born and died on May 9, 1933.

 

REFERENCES:

Edward Humes, Mississippi Mud, (Gallery Books: New York-1994), 434 pages.

The Daily Herald,“Gilich funeral”, December 17, 1943.

The Daily Herald,“With Coast men, women of Armed Service”, January 1, 1944.

The Daily Herald,“Thursday is set for opening of Foodland Store”, March 2, 1949.
 
The Daily Herald,“Nada Guich”, January 2, 1965, p. 2.
 
The Daily Herald,“Mrs. Rosa G. Gillich (sic)”, August 7, 1980.
 
The Daily Herald,“”,
 
The Mississippi Press, "Mike Gillich Jr.-figure in 1987 Dixie Mafia slaying of 2 dies", May 1, 2012. 

The Sun Herald, 'Judge Vincent Sherry-Mrs. Margaret Sherry', September 18, 1987, p. A4.
The Sun Herald, 'Sherry files combed for clues to killers', September 18, 1987, p. A1.
The Sun Herald, 'Mrs. Sherry told of fears of murder', September 19, 1987, p. A1.
The Sun Herald, 'Sherrys remembered with humor, affection', September 20, 1987, p. A1.
The Sun Herald, 'Gillich, associate [Leonard F. Swetman] plead innocent to drug charges listed in indictment', February 9, 1991, p. A-1.
The Sun Herald, "The Sherry Murders: 20 years later-Still stunning-Biloxi's most notorious murders revisited", September 9, 2007, p. A 1.
The Sun Herald, "FBI vet won 10-year fight", September 9, 2007, p. A 1.
The Sun Herald, "The Sherry Murders: 20 years later-Not the best sort of witness", September 10, 2007, p. A 1.
The Sun Herald, "House where Sherry's were murdered will be torn down", September 26, 2010, p. A 1.

The Sun Herald, "Alton S. Wescovich Sr.", April 13, 2007.

The Sun Herald, “Mary Agnes Gilich”, January 17, 2012.

The Sun Herald, “Mike Gillich dies at 82-lounge owner was central to Sherry murder conspiracy”, May 1, 2012.

The Sun Herald, Andrew Gilich Sr. was proud Croatian and Biloxian", June 28, 2014.

The Sun Herald, '[Andrew 'FoFo'] Gilich files for Biloxi's Mayor race', March 21, 2015, p. A-4.