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John “Captain Bill” Cosmich

John Cosmich was born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in 1909. When he moved to the Point Cadet area of Biloxi, John began his work in the seafood industry as a deckhand. He was eager to learn every aspect of the industry and set his mind on being the best fisherman on “The Point” harvesting the shrimp, oysters, fish, and crab that the Coast waters held in abundance. Here John met and married Clara Skrnich, another Biloxian of Slavic descent. The two were married in St. Michael’s Church and lived in the Point Cadet area where they raised their two children Patricia and John, Jr.

Working on schooners and other vessels in the early years, John became known to the community as “Captain Bill”. In the early 1950s, he purchased the DOLORIS S, a fifty-two-foot lugger, from his father-in-law, John Skrnich, Sr. Captain Bill was an independent fisherman, selling his catch to many different factories such as Southern Shell and Kuljis Seafood. Under his watchful eye, many young men were taught the industry skills of fishing, shrimping, oyster dredging and boat repairs and went on to purchase their own vessels.

After thirty years, Captain Bill was ready to retire and sold the DOLORIS S to a fisherman from Bayou La Batre. However, he soon went to work at Baricev’s Seafood Restaurant Oyster Bar where he made many friends and regaled all his customers with tales from Biloxi’s era as “The Seafood Capital of the World”.

A hardworking, devoutly Catholic man, Captain Bill was also a lifetime member of the Slavic Benevolent Society, for which he served as president. His motto that will continue to echo to all who heard and revered him: “Work hard and go to Church!”

Captain Bill lived to his 99th year but will be honored for his faithful contributions to the seafood industry, his faith, his heritage and the community for many more years to come.


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