Gary Hargrove’s job was a straightforward one. As county coroner for Harrison County, Mississippi, home to Biloxi and Gulfport, he was responsible for determining the details of the county’s deaths — time, cause, manner.
All that changed in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. More than 1000 people died, 97 of them in Harrison County. Suddenly, Hargrove’s job expanded to include identifying those 97 bodies.
Hargrove threw himself into the task, understanding that it was about more than getting names written on death certificates. By identifying all 97 of Katrina’s dead in Harrison County, he was making sure not one of them would be forgotten. It became a crusade that he worked tirelessly to complete.
In 2009, more than three years after Hurricane Katrina’s waters receded, Hargrove finally tracked down the last clue he needed to identify the 97th body. When he realized he had finally brought closure to the job, he told the Sun Herald, “That was probably the best day of my life.”
Hargrove died last weekend at 64, less than a year after his retirement as county coroner. The people signing his Legacy Guest Book are calling him compassionate and dedicated — see what they’ve said and add your condolences.