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Earl Wildon Ross

Born on December 13, 1947 in the old Biloxi Hospital located on the beach, Earl Ross grew up “in the yard” of his grandparents' home on Howard Avenue. Here, he and his cousins were raised understanding the special bond passed from generation to generation of the Ross family. One of these bonds was the love of shrimping and sailing. Earl’s grandfather, Amos Ross was a shrimper and racer of one of the old Biloxi schooners and his father, Wildon, was the captain of the OPHELIA WILLIAMS.

Over the years, Earl was a dedicated shrimper, even when the boats he owned were not originally constructed for such labor. He would convert or adapt any boat, be it a small skiff or cabin cruiser, into a shrimping vessel. Tirelessly, he would pull the nets in by hand and loved every minute of the hard labor.

Eventually, in 1979, Earl bought his first “real” shrimp boat. The LITTLE PUMPKIN, a 42-foot wooden trawler, was to be a labor of love as she was in much need of repair. After months on the boatyard and unknown amounts of caulk, paint and other building materials, LITTLE PUMPKIN was ready to shrimp. Earl was sure to bring her to the annual Blessing of the Shrimp Fleet festivities, getting her all dressed and decorated for the occasion.

When approached by someone wanting to start a new life for himself and his family as a US shrimper, Earl made the decision to sell. The LITTLE PUMPKIN would carry on her work with this new family.

A member of the Gulf Coast Seafood Alliance, Earl Ross would own other vessels over the years as well as a transport and tour business co-owned and operated by his wife, Charlene. In 2004, Earl purchased a 48-foot steel hull shrimp boat out of Chauvin, LA. He renamed the vessel the JOHNEEN MICHELLE after his daughter. This shallow draft boat afforded flexibility in the waters that could be shrimped increasing her productivity. The JOHNEEN MICHELLE was one of the first vessels to implement the usage of a turtle excluder device (TED) on the Mississippi Coast prior to their being mandated. When the transport and tour business demanded more of Earl’s time, he sold the JOHNEEN MICHELLE and took a hiatus from shrimping.

When the business was sold in 2004, Earl wanted to return to his passion of shrimping. He purchased the Lady Dizzy, a 72-foot steel hull trawler that he had licensed to work in federal waters. The effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then, later, the Deepwater Horizon “BP” Oil Spill of 2010, had a profound impact on the operations of the LADY DIZZY, so Earl decided to sell in 2013 and retire.

To date, Earl and Charlene still reside in Biloxi, where they continue to instill the Ross family values in their three children and their grandchildren. The Maritime and Seafood Industry honors Earl’s dedication to Biloxi’s heritage.


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