“A great man whom I was privileged to meet several years ago has gone on to be with our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. George Thatcher was a man of honor, someone to admire. His every word I hung on and cherish to this day in my heart. So much like my own father, I wanted to listen to him until he ran out of words. I have an autographed copy of A Decade of Beach Walks, a timeless tome of what he saw and thought those days he walked the beach.
George left an indelible mark on every person he met and has given us much to live up to. I pray the generations in his wake strive to be all he was to us.
God bless the Thatcher family.” — Jeanie Loiacono
Published in The Sun Herald on Dec. 30, 2018
George Robert Thatcher, longtime Gulfport resident, age 96, died Friday, December 28, 2018 in Gulfport. Son of the late Roberta Bernard Thatcher and the late Walter Robert Thatcher of Gulfport, he is survived by three children, Mrs. Georgia Anne (Cy) Faneca of Gulfport, Mrs. Janie Estelle (Ronald) Holmes of Madison, and Walter Wimberly (Marcia) Thatcher of Columbus, six grandchildren, Robert (Lee) Faneca of Lakeland, FL, Michael (Niki) Faneca of Gulfport, Cheryl Holmes (Miles) Watts of Mandeville, LA, Cliff (Sherry) Holmes of Jackson, MS, Mac (McKenzie) Thatcher of Tupelo, MS and Mark Thatcher of Columbus, and nine great-grandchildren.
Widowed, he was married to the late Mary Annie Jenkins Thatcher for 42 years. After her death he married Mary Elizabeth Sweatt Sutter, who died in 1988.
Mr. Thatcher graduated from Gulfport High School, the University of Mississippi and did graduate study at Indiana University and Oxford University in England. At Ole Miss, he was a member of DKE, ODK, and president of the Interfratenity Council.
In his early career, he was a partner of Clayton Rand in the Rand-Thatcher Advertising Agency and part owner of The Dixie Press, both in Gulfport. Later he was president of Coast Federal Savings and Loan Association, president, coast division, Magnolia Federal Bank, and chairman, the coast division’s advisory board, Union Planters Bank, now Regions Bank, where he had an office at the time of his death.
In 2002, he became a member of St. John Catholic Church. Previously he had been a member of St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church for 80 years, where he had been lay reader, serving twice as senior warden. He had been president of the Episcopal Laymen of Mississippi and for 10 years represented the Diocese of Mississippi on the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. He was lay canon of St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi, Africa. For 25 years he attended annual retreats at the Jesuit’s Manresa House at Convent, LA. At St. John’s Church, he was a lector and attended daily Mass.
He served in World War II and the Korean War, advancing in rank from private to major. Mr. Thatcher commanded the 1st Battalion, 57th Philippine Scout Infantry Regiment in the Philippine lslands. In combat in Korea, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation, and two other decorations for valor from the Republic of Korea. He was senior advisor to the 9th ROK Infantry Division at the noted battle of White Horse Mountain in which the 38th Chinese Army was defeated in 1952. He also commanded the 3rd Battalion, 155th Infantry Regiments, 31st Division, Mississippi National Guard.
Active in civic affairs, he had served as chairman or president of the following: Mississippi Arts Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Gulfport Rotary Club, Gulfport Young Men’s Business Club, United Way, Harrison County Library Board, and Century Club. He had served as a trustee of Gulf Park College, and on the board of directors of the Mississippi Economic Council, Memorial Hospital Foundation, Mississippi Historical Society, and the Southern Arts Federation. In 1953 and again in 1993, he was named outstanding citizen of Gulfport. In 1998, the Coast Chamber presented him the Pat Santucci Spirit Award for civic leadership. In 2005 he was statewide “Ageless Hero.” He was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. In his youth, he was an Eagle Scout.
Having a longtime interest in the arts, he was appointed a trustee of the U.S.
Senate’s art collection. Earlier, he helped select art for U.S. embassies overseas.
Since 1997, Mr. Thatcher had written a daily column, “Scenes from the beach…” in The Sun Herald. He was author of seven books: Beach Walks, Beach Walks II, Scenes from the Beach, A Decade of Beach Walks, and Beach Verses (2014) all published by Quail Ridge Press. In 1953, The Dixie Press published his book, Misrepresentation in Mississippi, an account of unequal legislative representation, which led to the reapportionment of the Mississippi legislature He also edited Prayers in Sickness, published nationally by Morehouse-Barlow, New York City.
An avid tennis player, he placed third nationally in the 85 to 90 age group in the Senior Olympics at Stanford University in 2009.
He was a member of Gulfport Yacht Club, Great Southern Club, Gulfport Rotary Club, Coast Chamber, Bayou Bluff Tennis Club, Gulf Coast Racquet Club, Century Club, and the International Chess Club. His varied interests included tennis, chess, reading, beach walking, classical music, and overseas travel.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at St. John Catholic Church where friends visited from at 9:30 a.m. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Gulfport.
Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street Gulfport, is in charge of arrangements. View and sign register book at www.bradfordokeefe.com
“We buried George yesterday. He had coffee with us Wed. Said he had a doctor’s appointment Thursday. Doctor sent him to the hospital with pneumonia. He died Friday at noon. George was truly a man for all seasons, a scholar, author, banker, journalist and
an infantryman, Private to Major, WWII and Korea. He was awarded a Bronze Star in Korea.
I loved him and will miss him greatly.” — Thomas E. Simmons