Capt. Lois "L.J." Fountain, Jr., was recently inducted into the Maritime & Seafood INdustry museum Heritage Hall of Fame at a reception held at the museum in Biloxi.
Fountain's name and his shrimp boat, "Paradise," were both recognized and honored at the reception and certificates of appreciation were distributed in his honor.
The awards were given in appreciation for the contributions he made to the maritime industry of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and his biography will forever be on record at the museum.
Jay Fountain, Capt. Fountain's son, accepted the awards on his behalf.
Lois Joseph (L.J.) Fountain was born on Jan. 1, 1930, on the back bay of Biloxi.
He was the eldest of 13 children born to Louis Joseph Fountain, Sr., and Elzena Lindsey Fountain.
As a young boy, L.J. knew the hardship of growing up in a large family with few resources and therefore was forced to quit school in the eighth grade to help his family by working the waters of the back bay of Biloxi. He caught crabs for his mother to pick for stuffed crabs.
He would ride his bicycle to sell the stuffed crabs around the Keesler Air Force Base area. He worked at different factories along the coast, opening oysters. ON e of them was owned by Joe Colson of Waveland.
During the summer months, he would work on various shrimp boats, most of them out of the Biloxi Harbor.
At age 19, L.j. joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served for two years. After his service, he returned home and met the love of his life, Audrey Garcia.
They were married and lived in Bay St. Louis and had their first son Jay on Nov. 27, 1953.
L.J. then worked with his father-in-law, Earl Garcia at Garcia's Gas Station, located on Hwy. 90 in Waveland.
On Feb. 20, 1955, L.J. and Audrey's second son Michael was born.
L.J. was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after Michael was born. He relocated his family to North Carolina while he served two years during the Korean conflict. During that time, their third son Kenneth was born on Feb. 6, 1957.
In 1958, L.J. and his family returned to the Bay st. Louis area, where they lived with family members. He then joined the Mississippi National Guard to supplement his pay and bought an unfinished Jim Walter Homes, where manager Charlie Benigno asked him to sell houses. One year, he sold more than a million dollars in homes in one year, so the company rewarded him by donating all of the building materials to finish his home.
The National Guard then called him to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Over the years, L.J. and Audrey had three more sons, Tyrone, Glenn and Tom. Tom passes away as an infant, but the remaining five sons grew up learning their parents' teachings that you must work hard for what you want, always respect other sand be honest no matter what.
For most of his life, L.J. dreamed of owning a large shrimp boat and working for himself. He owned several skiffs and worked them with his sons, catching shrimp to sell for extra income. Eventually, he went to work with Mississippi Marine Conservation as the conservation supervisor from Biloxi to the Mississippi-Louisiana state lines. He was instrumental in making sure fishermen followed the laws and helped stop the harvesting of egg crabs which would deplete the population. He worked long, hard hours replenishing oyster beds by creating a modified craft capable of transferring oysters form contaminated areas to clean oyster reefs. As a result, 5,000 barrels of oysters were moved in one month. He continued to help the oyster population by taking the shells from the factories and transporting them to the closed reefs so that they would replenish the reefs with fresh oysters. He and his sons cut tall pine tries sand used them to mark boundaries for shrimpers so they know how far to go out from shore.
After working several years for the Conservation, L.J. had finally saved enough money to purchase the "Paradise," a shrimp boat in need of many repairs. He and his sons worked many long, hard hours to make it the boat o his dreams and seaworthy enough to catch many pounds of shrimp and many barrels of oysters.
In one successful night, he made enough money to pay of the boat and resign from the Marine Conservation. He then worked many years catching shrimp and oysters and delivering them to the Bayou Caddy docks in Bay St. Louis and the Pass Christian Harbor.
For many years, he enjoyed participating in the Pass Christian Blessing of the Fleet.
Unfortunately, the Paradise sunk after running aground while L.J. was shrimping on St. Joe's Channel. He purchased the "John Mavar" and worked it for many years before becoming ill and unable to work. While he was hospitalized, the bilge pump stopped working and the John Mavar sunk.
However, he continued to fish and enjoyed inviting family and friends to dine on "Biloxi Bacon" and seafood gumbo and potato salad.
L.J. passed away on Oct. 5, 2005 from a tragic accident on Hwy. 53 in Gulfport. He is buried in St. Mary Cemetery in Bay St. Louis, beside his beloved wife Audrey, who passed away on Oct. 10, 1976. His headstone is carved with a picture of the Paradise and reads "Gone Shrimping."