MS Coast loses businessman and community leader Gene Warr
For decades, Gene Warr has dedicated himself to his family, his church, entrepreneurship, and making the Mississippi Gulf Coast a better place to live.
The longtime Coast resident, who died on Saturday, may be remembered better as the owner of popular men’s clothing stores Warr’s, first in Edgewater Mall, then in a mall on US 90 than Hurricane Katrina destroyed in 2005.
Warr, originally from Center, Texas, grew up on a farm, according to his obituary. He enjoyed singing gospel music, first in churches in East Texas, then as a tenor with the Stamps Baxter Quartet. He also toured with the Rushing family and went on to create a pop group, the Four Mints, which included his brother, Al Warr.
“The quartet has performed with great success in the most beautiful venues in the country, including the famous Palace Theater and Copacabana in New York, the Sands in Las Vegas and the main dinner clubs of the time,” says its obituary. . The quartet also performed at the Gus Stevens supper club in Biloxi.
He learned the clothing business in his youth while working in the Dad and Lad’s men’s clothing store for the Reverend Jimmy Jones in Texas. Warr came to appreciate beautiful clothes while working at the store in high school and college.
He opened his first clothing store, Gene Warr’s Men’s Shop, in 1964 in the Edgewater Shopping Center.
“For over 35 years, the store served as a base of operations for many companies, as well as a launch for The Village Drummer (in) 1969 and Warr’s Men’s Clothing in 1986,” its obituary reads. The Village Drummer was a women’s clothing store owned by his wife, Kay Warr.
Warr and his son, Brent Warr, also founded the real estate investment company Warr Properties. Brent Warr served as the mayor of Gulfport during Hurricane Katrina.
Gene and Kay Warr were married for 63 years and also had a daughter, Gena Cook, and four grandchildren.
He has been involved in many civic activities, serving 21 years on the Biloxi Planning Commission, 19 of which as chairman. He also worked for many years in the Biloxi and Gulfport Chambers of Commerce, most notably as Director of both. He was chairman of the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and founder of Coast 21, later known as the Gulf Coast Business Council.
The Warrs first settled in Biloxi, but then moved to Gulfport.
As a successful businessman, he was also recruited to serve on the boards of directors of numerous companies, including Mississippi Power, the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, the Mississippi Economic Council, and the Ethics Commission of the state. He was one of the founding directors of Jefferson Bank and the Gulf Coast Community Bank.
His family said in his obituary that he was proud to receive the Spirit of the Coast award in 1999.
One of his dearest affiliations was with the First Baptist Church of Gulfport, of which he was a member for over 60 years.
“As a usher, he was the first smiling face of visitors and members he met when he greeted them,” says his obituary. “He has led the music of his beloved ‘Scrap Iron’ Sunday School class for over 50 years. “
Brent Warr said his father shared many life lessons with him and his sister.
“What he would say to me and my sister is, ‘In anything you do with another person, don’t worry about yourself because you’ll be fine. Any deal you make with someone, always make sure that they will do a little better than you. It won’t matter. You will be happier.
Brent Warr concluded, “If everyone followed this principle these days, we would be much better off in this country. “