Cono Anthony Caranna II departed this life on January 9, 2020, at the Biloxi Veterans Administration Hospital in the arms of his wife Margaret. He was a graduate of Biloxi High School 1960, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Mississippi School of Law. He served in the United States Army as a rifle company commander in Vietnam where he was awarded a Bronze Star with “V” device, two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal, and a Purple Heart.
Cono began his public service career in 1973 when he was appointed Biloxi city attorney by Mayor Jerry O‘Keefe. He later became the longest serving full time District Attorney in South Mississippi history. He was the first District Attorney in the 5th Congressional District to hire a full time African American Assistant District Attorney. He established the first Victim Witness Coordinator program in a Mississippi Prosecutor’s Office which served as a model for present day victims assistance coordinators. He was the first District Attorney in the state to support life without parole as a sentencing option in capital murder trials. The provision passed the legislature in 1994.
Cono established the first drug court in the Second Circuit Court District and worked for passage of legislation creating a bad check collection unit enacted into law in 1988. He substantially enlarged a pretrial diversion program for non-violent offenders. Starting in 1984, he was able to build support for a computerized system providing better court management and criminal records. He established the first multi-disciplinary team to improve services to victims of sexual assault and to more effectively prosecute those crimes.
Cono was recognized by the Harrison County Library Board of Trustees and Friends of the Gulfport Library for “saving the library” by marshaling public and political support to change announced GSA plans to raze the building for the federal courthouse site. He served as the State President for the City Attorneys Association, President of the Harrison County Bar Association, Commissioner for the Mississippi State Bar Association, Board Member, Mississippi Prosecutors Association, County Chairman American Heart Association. His memberships included the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of Purple Heart, Friends of the Harrison County Libraries, executive committee Harrison County Democratic Party, and the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation.
Cono was also a lifelong Democrat and was able to navigate political waters effectively because people knew Cono could be trusted to do what he said. He strived to make the best decisions he could for his community.
Cono loved Sam and his D.A. staff. Cono loved Margaret, his children, and his grandchildren, and he also had a special place in his heart for Mandy. Cono was preceded in death by his parents Cono Anthony Caranna and Katherine Cooley Caranna. Cono is survived by his wife Judge Margaret Alfonso, his daughter Katie and her husband Eric Kravette and their children Allison and Andrew, his son Cono III and his wife Sue and their children Kennedy and Cono IV, his stepdaughter Mandy, and his sister Nancy Caranna Landrum.
The family would like to thank Ochsner physician Dr. Sara Fernandez for the care she provided Cono and the care she provides for most of his family. The family would also like to thank the Biloxi Veterans Administration Hospital, in particular Dr. Herman Sacks, Rachael Pikich, Ashley Wesson, and the staffs of Building 15 Yellowstone and Niagara.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial donations to Magnolia Community Services, 100 Central Avenue, Jefferson, Louisiana, 70121, a 501(c)3 providing support to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities or to one’s favorite charity.
Visitation for Cono will be Thursday, January 16, 2020, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Nativity Cathedral in Biloxi with Mass starting at 11:00 am followed by full military honors in front of the Cathedral. Serving as pallbearers will be Judge Kosta Vlahos, Judge Chris Schmidt, Judge Larry Bourgeois, Judge John Garguilo, Judge Dale Harkey, Walter Ketchings, Joel Smith, Sam LaRosa, John Compton, Roy Benbow, Tommy Newman and Dr. Tom Mason.
Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home in Biloxi is in charge of arrangements. View and sign online tribute at www.bradfordokeefe.com.