John “Johnny” Skrnich, Jr. (March 23, 1917-February 6, 2007)
John “Johnny” Skrnich, Jr. was born to John Skrnich, Sr. and Antonia Kuljis Skrnich, both from Milna, Split, Dalmatia. Having settled in Biloxi, John, Sr. worked in the seafood industry while he and Antonia raised twelve children, including John, Jr.
Like many children of families in the seafood industry, Johnny began working at the early age of 14 at seafood factories along the eastern Biloxi beaches. At 16 years, he began working on a schooner as well as the Delores S, an early Biloxi lugger, with his father. By age 18, Johnny purchased his own boat, a Biloxi lugger built in 1929 that later became the Deborah named after his daughter.
John Jr’s marriage of 60 years to Flora Stella Gazzo began in 1941. Together they had four children: Michael, Danny, Deborah, and John III, who lost his life in a boating accident at the age of six. In their youth, the Skrnich’s attended St. Michael’s Catholic Church then later St. Louis Catholic Church as Johnny was very devout in his faith.
As captain, Johnny centered his work and family life around the Deborah and the Biloxi Sound. Family events like birthdays, Blessing of the Fleet and simple leisure outings were often enjoyed at Deer or Ship Island. He furnished the Deborah to groups such as the “Leisurely Club” for cruises and picnics on Deer Island. Having attended every Blessing of the Fleet ceremony, he was honored to receive an award for Best Decorated Boat in the 1976 event and was presented a trophy by Biloxi resident, football coach, and Blessing King, Jackie Sherrill.
Proud to belong to the close-knit Yugoslavian community on The Point in East Biloxi that was so instrumental in the seafood industry, Johnny was a member of the Slavonian Lodge, of which his father was a founding member.
John Skrnich, Jr. worked for 56 years in the seafood industry, but continued to shrimp for 5 additional years at his own leisure and for his own joy. He loved his faith, family and working on the water with equal passion.