LOUIS JAMES GORENFLO
Native Biloxian, Louis James Gorenflo was a boat designer and captain. Louis was the grandson of prominent Biloxian, William F. Gorenflo, Sr., a pioneer in the seafood canning industry. Louis was born in Biloxi in 1904 and would spend his entire life on the Gulf Coast. He graduated Biloxi High School and continued on to Perkinston Junior College where he received an engineering degree. He began drafting boat designs and racing boats as well. He raced the white-winged queens, or Biloxi schooners.
Gorneflo capitalized off of the tourist market in Biloxi and made money taking tourists out on fishing trips in his schooners. In his spare time, he worked as a writer, photographer, and biographer, all skills which would aid his work in the tourism industry.
Louis Gorneflo established his own company known as the Gorenflo Boat Building Company, solidifying his career designing vessels. One of his significant accomplishments in the boating industry was his design of the famous “Biloxi Dinghy”. He shipped over one thousand complete kits of this now-famous design. The design also appeared in an article Gorneflo wrote for the Popular Mechanics magazine His photos were also included with the article. He would write another article for this magazine following the completion of his design for an aero-dynamic speed boat.
Later in life, Captain Gorenflo completed work on one of his most well-known projects the Sailfish. Gorenflo utelized this vessel as a tourist attraction, one which he would operate for the remainder of his life. He used the tour boat to educate and provide demonstrations to tourists on the shrimping and oystering industry of the Gulf Coast. He utilized trawling nets to demonstrate the bounty of the Coast, providing narration to his tourists throughout the process. In his lifetime, Gorenflo met and befriended the legendary Deer Island Hermit, Mr. Guillhot, who would accompany Gorenflo on his tours and provide songs and stories for the tourists. Gorenflo was also friends with Baldwin Woods, owner of The Nydia, and honored Woods by giving the eulogy at his funeral.
Captain Louis James Gorenflo passed away in 1963. The Sailfish is the longest-running tourist attraction in Biloxi and is still in operation today. During his lifetime, Gorenflo and his wife made hundreds of replicas of the Sailfish out of oyster shells and distributed them to local hotels as advertisement. Captain Gorneflo shares a quality with many other Biloxians and that was his love for the water which resulted in a lifelong maritime career.