Andrew Cvitanovich

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Andrew Matthew Cvitanovich

1927 ~ 2014


Andrew Cvitanovich, the quiet but meticulous majordomo of Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant, peacefully passed away Saturday, May 3, 2014, just days shy of the 50th anniversary of the business to which he devoted a lifetime.

Andrew succumbed from a lingering illness that disrupted his decades-long routine of seven-day work weeks overseeing operations at the iconic restaurant, long a symbol of Biloxi tourism and resilience. With his dedication to hard work and attention to detail, Mahoney's established itself as culturally unique among the cookie-cutter seafood restaurants that dotted Biloxi's beachfront in the mid-20th century. Later, his leadership and determination enabled Mahoney's to quickly recover from two of the nation's deadliest natural disasters, hurricanes Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005). And even though hospitalized in recent weeks, Andrew daily coached his family about the ongoing needs of the restaurant property.

A native Biloxian who grew up amidst the seafood processing plants on Point Cadet, Cvitanovich was the son of Croatian immigrants Anthony and Mary (Trojanovich) Cvitanovich. After graduating from Notre Dame High School, he joined the family business, the Sanitary Fish & Oyster Company. He later operated his own shrimp boat, the Carolyn.

In 1964, Andrew sold his boat and formed a partnership with his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Bob Mahoney. On May 7th that year, their collaboration resulted in the opening of Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant, which over time became an integral part of Biloxi's rich history. Andrew spent almost two years renovating a 1737 colonial manor at the downtown junction of Water and Magnolia streets. Mary and Bob managed the staff and restaurant, while Andrew busied himself behind the scenes with the demands of property maintenance and expansion.

Andrew's life centered on his work, his family and his Catholic faith. He eschewed hobbies and other diversions, focusing instead on his ever-demanding responsibilities at Mahoney's, and those of his expanding family. He was a devout parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and Nativity B.V.M. Cathedral, and frequently and anonymously assisted those in need. He also was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus and the Slavic Benevolent Association, of which his father was a founding member.

Andrew was predeceased by his parents, his first wife, Mary Parker Cvitanovich, his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Robert Mahoney, and sister and brother-in-law, Annie and Leroy Clark of Mobile, AL. He is survived by his beloved wife, Sarah Gautreaux Cvitanovich; his son, Tony (Ellen) Cvitanovich of Biloxi; and daughters, Margaret (Alvin) Montgomery of San Francisco, Andrea (Jay) Osman of Ocean Springs, and Joanna (James) Allen of Biloxi. He is also survived by seven grandchildren - Mary Beth Cvitanovich, Emily Cvitanovich, Yasmine Osman, Andrew Osman, Lila Osman, Olivia Allen and Jake Allen along with stepsons James Gautreaux and Gene Gautreaux and their extended families.

Andrew Cvitanovich was a shrewd businessman whose economy of words belied a superior focus that earned the respect of his peers and employees. He will forever be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle whose humble nature and generous spirit inspired all who knew him.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation in honor of Andrew's granddaughter, Mary Beth Cvitanovich, to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, 4600 Devitt Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45246.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at Nativity B.V.M. Cathedral, where friends may visit 2 hours prior. Burial will follow at Biloxi City Cemetery. The Howard Avenue Chapel of Bradford-O'Keefe is in charge of arrangements.

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Published in The Sun Herald from May 5 to May 6, 2014
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