|Birth: ||May 30, 1911|
|Death: ||Mar. 10, 1998|
BILOXI -- Gus Stevens, 86, died Tuesday, March 10, 1998, in Gulfport.
Mr. Stevens was born in Chester, Pa., May 30, 1911. He formerly owned two restaurants in Pritchard, Ala., and in 1946 moved to Biloxi where he was a restarateur and nightclub owner. In 1993 he received the Laurel Wreath Award. Other honors include: Chef of the Coast by the Coast Restaurant and Beverage Association in 1986; Outstanding Restaurateur in 1984 by the Gulf Coast Restaurant Association; colonel and aide de camp by former Governor Bill Waller; honored by the Lions Club International in 1971. He served as president of the Mississippi Restaurant Association three times.
Survivors include his wife, Irene Mitchell Stevens of Biloxi; two daughters, Elaine Stevens of San Diego and Kathryn Roberts of Mobile; a son, Steve Stevens of Panama City Beach, Fla.; a brother, Ted Stevens, of Mobile; and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 6 to 9 tonight at Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, Pass Road, Biloxi with a prayer service at 7. A service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Biloxi where friends may call one hour before the service. Burial will be at Southern Memorial Park, Biloxi.
The family prefers memorials to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 255 Beauvoir Road, Biloxi, MS 39531.
(Sun Herald, The (Biloxi, MS) March 13, 1998, Page:A7)
ENTERTAINMENT PIONEER GUS STEVENS DIES ENTREPRENEUR BROUGHT PIZZAZZ TO THE COAST
Gus Stevens, an 86-year-old Coast entertainment pioneer, died Tuesday, and with him ends a fascinating pre-casino era that brought the likes of Rudy Vallee, Dave Gardner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Andy Griffith, Jayne Mansfield, Mel Torme and other big names of the 1950s and 1960s to the Coast.
For his vision in pushing for the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center and for his legendary efforts in Coast entertainment, Stevens received the coveted Laurel Wreath Award in 1993.
He was remembered as a little man with big ideas.
''The Coast will miss him,'' said John Mladinich, who was a good friend and competitor with his family's own nearby Fiesta club and restaurant. ''Gus was a likeable guy with a Mediterranean personality -- always full-speed.
''He brought a lot of badly needed good entertainment to the Coast. He told me that when he first came to the Coast he smelled the sweet oleanders and that's what made him decide to stay.''
The American-born Greek businessman died after a long illness. He is credited with bringing vision, energy and focus to Coast entertainment, particularly through his Gus Stevens' Seafood Restaurant and Buccaneer Supper Club in Biloxi -- known by locals as simply ''Gus Stevens'.''
He bought his first restaurant on Central Beach in 1946, only to have it destroyed by the 1947 hurricane. The next year he bought a barbecue drive-in on the Biloxi Strip at Veterans Boulevard, which would become the site of his famous supper club. People came from North Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana just to see his shows.
The last performance of Jayne Mansfield -- the best remembered of his VIP guests -- was at Gus Stevens'. She died in a car crash en route to New Orleans after the show.
The supper club closed in 1975. Stevens himself explained, ''This is an era that you will never see again. People are more conservative nowadays. Who can afford to go out four nights a week with prices the way they are?''
In his glory days, Stevens had a truck with speakers on top and traveled from Memphis to Lake Charles to promoting his entertainment.
His energy and innovation is what is remembered most. For his efforts to bring a convention center and all its related tourist dollars, some called him Mr. Coliseum.
''Gus was very instrumental in bringing the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center project together,'' said Bill Holmes, Coliseum executive director. ''When they were making plans, the meetings were held at his place, and he covered the expenses to get the local and political support that the project needed.
''This man, even a few years ago in failing health, was always talking about bigger ideas. He was a visionary, and I had so much respect for him in that manner.''
In addition to the supper club, Stevens owned several other businesses, including a Long Beach hotel with singer Johnny Rivers and a Gus Stevens No. 2 on Henderson Point, which was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy, rebuilt then destroyed by fire in 1967. But his come-back spirit perservered.
The club for which he became famous included among its entertainers Coast favorites like The Four Mints, as well as exotic dancers. He is credited with bringing the Biloxi Strip, noted for its clubs and restaurants, into its own.
He was born Gus Stevens Kouvarakis in 1911 in Philadelphia, Pa., but his family moved to the Greek island of Patmos when he was 4. At 18, he moved back to the United States and made his first visit to the Coast.
Sixteen years later, he bought his first restaurant here.
Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home in Gulfport did not have complete information about survivors or funeral services.
(Sun Herald, The (Biloxi, MS) March 11, 1998, Page: A9)
Southern Memorial Park
Created by: Dawna Westbrook
Record added: Jan 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 46377814
Added: Nov. 14, 2013
Added: Nov. 14, 2013