GULFPORT — Francine Pettis of Gulfport could never give enough if she was helping somebody else out, said her daughter, LaTonia Kirksey of Slidell.
“My mother was a strong-willed person,” Kirksey said, “and she loved people. Even if they had bad qualities, she always looked to pull out the good.“
For the people her mother worked with during 31 years at Keesler Air Force Base, Kirksey said, “She was a mother to them, a counselor to them and would even loan them money if someone was short. We would tell her, ‘Mom, they may be lying to you.’ She’d say, ‘That’s OK. God will handle that.’
“It didn’t matter what people were going to do with the money, she felt like if they needed it, she wanted them to have it. She had a giving heart.”
Francine Pettis, 60, died Saturday from complications of congestive heart failure. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Greater Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport; and visitation will be an hour before services and also from 6 to 8 tonight, at Lockett-Williams Mortuary, Inc.
As Kirksey was growing up, she said, her mother “… always taught me to be who I am and people will respect you for that; don’t try to be somebody that you’re not. She said to love yourself because if you love yourself, it will be easier to love others.
“One of things she would say is, ‘Reach for the stars. Even if you miss, you’re still among the clouds.’
“She was a just a smart woman; smart about life, smart when it comes to books — just very intelligent.
“Mom had a talent for expensive stuff,” Kirksey noted. As an executive housekeeper for the Inns of Keesler, Pettis decorated for the generals at Keesler and did it well.
“She had eye for things,” Kirksey said. “She knew how to look at stuff. One thing here, one thing there and she could bring it all together.
“She just liked nice things. She would say, ‘It’s sad. I’ve got good taste but my money is not there.’ She knew how to shop, though. She’d wait until it went on sale and then she’d get it. She just knew how to do things.”
-- Pam Firmin