Cover photo for Percy James "Jim" Wetzel, III's Obituary

Percy James "Jim" Wetzel, III

d. March 8, 2024


The Mississippi Coast lost an icon and longtime Harrison County public servant with the passing of James "Jimmy" Wetzel on Friday, March 8 after a brief illness in St. Joseph's Hospice in Gulfport. He was 92.

He was preceded in death by his former wife, Norma Wetzel; his beloved daughter, Leigh Adamson; his mother, Jacobina Sekul Gilich; his stepfather, Andrew M. Gilich, Sr.; his father, Percy Wetzel; and his brother, Stephen K. Wetzel.

A deeply loved father, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, he leaves behind his son, James K. Wetzel (Garnette); his daughter, Jamie Wetzel Morgan (Peter); his grandsons, Garner James Wetzel, (Ashley Macho), and Jarrod Wetzel Bigotte (Morgan); his great granddaughter, Vivian Wetzel; his brother, honorable Andrew "FoFo" Gilich, Jr. (Serena); his sisters, Andrea Gilich, Sr., and Jaye Gilich Brice, (Dr. Buddy Brice); his sister-in- law, Brenda Wetzel; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Jimmy grew up on the Point in Biloxi, went to Biloxi and St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis. He was a graduate of Notre Dame High School and served in the Army for three years.

Known as Big Jimmy to family and friends, he was a larger-than-life treasure of the Gulf Coast. To say he was the life of the party would be an understatement. As he walked into a room, his presence was immediately felt. He was always ready to break into song at a gathering, especially showcasing his repertoire of Croatian folk songs.  He was just as liable to capture a crowd through his art of storytelling.

Having a passion and love of his Croatian heritage he was a long-time member of the Croatian/Slavonian Lodge having served as secretary and member of the building committee for the Croatian Culture Center. He was a member of the Slavic Benevolent Association of Biloxi, National Association of Review Appraisers, Master Mason of the Magnolia Lodge 120 in good standing for 50 years, Revelers Carnival Association, and a lifetime member of the Les Pierrot, Elks Lodge, French Club, and the Biloxi Yacht Club.

His commitment and dedication to the Coast was evident in his 16 years as Deputy Tax Assessor for Harrison County and 24 years as Harrison County Tax Assessor, having run unopposed for 6 terms. During his time, he helped the county computerize the tax rolls.  He lobbied for and won a property tax break for the elderly and disabled.  Jim also organized a program allowing people to mail in their homestead exemption form.

After retirement he enjoyed his visits to the tax office to keep in touch.

Quite the outdoorsman, he was an adventurous hunter and avid fisherman. His many trips to Chandeleur Island with his son, grandsons, and friends can be counted as epic.

Having been blessed with a beautiful singing voice, he was asked to sing at many weddings, funerals, other events on the coast, and in the choir of many Catholic Churches in Biloxi throughout his life. It was always special to hear him sing "O Holy Night" at midnight Mass at the Nativity Cathedral.

In his later years, right up to his death, he could be found at the French Club for karaoke night with his rendition of My Way.

But nothing meant more to Big Jimmy than his family. He beamed with pride at the mention of his children and grandchildren's names and had a twinkle in his eye when in their presence. Along with many family gatherings of his siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins, he had an unbreakable tie to his loving family.

His extraordinary life touched many. His love of his Catholic faith and his devotion to his family and to the community he treasured will leave a lasting legacy.

He was loved beyond words and will be missed beyond measure.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 870 Howard Ave. Biloxi, MS, with the visitation starting at 11:00 a.m. until the time of Mass.  The burial will follow at Biloxi National Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers please make contributions to St. Vincent DePaul, .

Riemann Family Funeral Home, Biloxi is proud to serve the Wetzel family, and an online obituary may be viewed, and memories shared at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Percy James "Jim" Wetzel, III, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

11:00am - 12:45 pm (Central time)

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral

870 Howard Ave, Biloxi, MS 39530

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

12:45 - 1:45 pm (Central time)

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral

870 Howard Ave, Biloxi, MS 39530

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

2:30 - 3:30 pm (Central time)

Biloxi National Cemetery

400 Veterans Ave, Biloxi, MS 39531

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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