More than 55 years of records, memorabilia and one of the largest law libraries on the Coast were lost when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the offices of Boyce Holleman & Associates in Gulfport.|
"We were up 23 feet, a block and a half off the water, but we lost everything," said Tim Holleman. "We have good evidence that our 5,000-square-foot office was downed by wind, and the water washed away what was left."
The family found a few mementos blocks away "but very little," Holleman said. His wife, Lisa, found a family photo taken in 1968 on the pier of the old Edgewater Hotel.
The attorney sons (Tim and Dean) had hoped to recover a cherished portrait of the patriarch, Boyce Holleman, longtime district attorney, who died Nov. 21, 2003. "We found a piece of the frame across the street," said Tim.
The senior Holleman bought a law practice in Wiggins and started his library in 1950. "We probably had the largest law library except for the courthouse," said Tim.
"We're thankful for the day of computers and laptops," he said. "We took laptops with us and saved our important client database.
"We had backups in the office safe, but they were ruined. This building didn't get any water in Hurricane Camille, and we had no idea," said Holleman, who had 6 feet of water in his home. The Hollemans visited New Orleans over the weekend for the first time since Katrina. "It still shocks you," he said. "That water just came in and sat in New Orleans. It looks like it melted everything."
Holleman said the firm is waiting for local officials to tell them the new elevation requirements. "We will rebuild," said Holleman, who has kept his staff of 11, including three attorneys, in Orange Grove.
"My dad said that trials like this are character builders," he said. "'When you make it through tough times, it makes you tougher,' he used to say. We hope so."
- GARY HOLLAND