July 29, 2014  

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Buffetts Donate, Christen Gulf Coast Research Lab Vessel in Mother's Honor

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From left to right, Lucy Buffett, Laurie Buffett McGuane, Jimmy Buffett and University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders pose next to the Miss Peetsy B after the Buffett family christened the vessel at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs. (Southern Miss University Communications photo by Charmaine Williams Schmermund)

Singer, songwriter and University of Southern Mississippi alumnus Jimmy Buffett, alongside his sisters Lucy Buffett and Laurie Buffett McGuane, performed a one-of-a-kind christening for their donated vessel, Miss Peetsy B, at the university’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs on Monday, Dec. 5.

In honor of their mother, Mary Loraine “Peets” Buffett, her children christened the boat with Jimmy’s own island style beverage, Land Shark Lager. The vessel’s donors and Southern Miss administrators welcomed the vessel with the university’s alumni, distinguished guests and the fifth grade Leadership Team from Taconi Elementary School, representing the many students who will benefit from the educational opportunities provided by the Miss Peetsy B.

The 33-foot craft, featuring a Detroit engine, was originally built as a navy boat in 1973 by Uniflite and was recently donated by Jimmy Buffett to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation. The Marine Education Center, located at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, will utilize the Miss Peetsy B for educational programs for upper elementary and secondary schools, as well as the general public, for programs like Sea Camp, ecological tours of the Biloxi Bay, and trips to Deer Island.

“It’s always fun when crazy ideas become a reality,” said Jimmy Buffett moments before the christening. “Then to be passed on to something as important as educating future generations who are in the process of growing up here the way [me, Laurie and Lucy] did as young kids on the coast.”

“Peets” Buffett, who died in Fairhope, Ala., in 2003, was a 1940 graduate of the Gulf Park College for Women in Long Beach, Miss. In 1972, the college was designated as a second campus for Southern Miss and renamed the Gulf Park campus. In addition to the Buffett family’s generous donation of the Miss Peetsy B, along with a $30,000 fund to support the program, the family provides additional support to Southern Miss with the Mary Loraine Peets Buffett Endowed Scholarship.

“This wonderful contribution by the Buffett family will mean the world to our Marine Education Center,” said Southern Miss President Martha Saunders. “Schoolchildren from across the coast will get the opportunity to explore the coastal waters and learn about the ocean. We are most grateful.”

Jimmy Buffett also recently endorsed the Alumni Association’s “Parrothead Night at the Pete” promotion at a Southern Miss baseball game and autographed jerseys from the game, which resulted in more than $16,000 being raised for academic scholarships and the baseball team.

“It’s special having a boat like that dedicated to my mom… a great coastal girl who went a long way,” added Jimmy. “So, she’s going to ride again.”

For more information about the Miss Peetsy B, contact the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Laboratory at 228.872.4200.

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