Sam Smolcich was a boat owner and commercial fisherman who lived in the Point Cadet neighborhood of Biloxi. The Smolich family immigrated to Biloxi from Yugoslavia and Sam was born on December 16, 1934. Many of the young men of the Smolich family worked in the Biloxi Seafood Company factory, under the ownership of Sam’s grandfather, Vincent Cvitanovich. This factory was located on the property that now houses the Golden Nugget Casino. When the industry was in decline, the Smolcich brothers worked at various family-owned grocery stores on the Point as well as the Roxy Theatre and the Roxy Heart restaurant.
In the 1940s, he began a partnership with his brother Joe Smolcich, who was known affectionately as both “Mr. Biloxi” and “Smokey Joe.” The two brothers began to run boats together such as the RA Fayard, the JP Leckich and the Joan Fayard. The brothers became known for their speed in shucking oysters, many video recordings of this feat still exist today. Sam continued to work in the industry and eventually bought his own boat named the Jo Ann Fayard (sometimes spelled Joann Fayard). He was also the owner of the first steel hull shrimp boat in Biloxi named the Nana. In 2000, Sam Smolcich was honored to be crowned the Shrimp King for the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Participation in the Blessing ceremonies ran in the family with his daughter Maria crowned as Shrimp Queen Contestant in 1970 and his granddaughter, Miranda Hindmarch, selected as Miss Congeniality in the1997 festivities. Sam’s parents had also been given the honor of reigning as King and Queen of the Shrimp and Oyster Festival which was once held at the first Slavonian Lodge on East Howard Avenue. Sam Smolcich passed away on January 29, 2006. Spending his life on the coast surrounded by family and friends, Sam saw many chapters of the seafood industry and was an active participant in its history. Like so many other prominent Biloxi figures, Sam Smolcich arrived from Europe and found the American dream within the maritime tradition.