ARMINDO OLIVEIRA "HERMAN" SOARES
Armindo Oliveria Soares, known as “Herman,” was a European immigrant who settled in Biloxi, Mississippi and establish both a trade and a legacy. Born in 1908, Herman grew up in the city of Murtosa, Portugal along with his brothers. His family emigrated from Portugal to Sao Paulo, Brazil where they lived for five years before immigrating again to the United States, arriving in Long Island, New York in 1919. Years later, Herman would meet the love of his life, Judith Suzano, at the Philadelphia Portuguese Club. The two married in August of 1936 and would become parents to three: Danny, Victor and Lorena, but their life’s story took off in 1943, when Herman was first given an offer to work in Biloxi.
Herman had been managing his own grocery business in Devon, Pennsylvania when he was contacted by Virgilio dos Santos to work in the canning industry on the Gulf Coast. Virgilio had already established a successful canning operation in Louisiana and was looking to expand into Biloxi. For this reason, he would need a partner to manage coastal operations. Virgilio along with his business partner, Roy Rosalis, acquired a canning company from Bernard Taltavull in May of 1943 for a total of $60,000. With the structure and trademarks now in their name, the two approached Soares to join their business venture. Arriving in Biloxi that same year, Herman became a 1/3 owner of the Biloxi Canning & Packing Company, assuming the title of vice president and command over a fleet of twenty shrimping boats. Within a few months, Rosalis sold his 1/3 share and Herman became equal partners with Virgilio, as co-owner of the company.
Following the 1947 Hurricane, the business would undergo a number of changes. As a direct result of the storm, several repairs and upgrades were made to the factory itself. A number of boats were renamed in honor of the children of the co-owners. The most prominent change was that of the company’s title, which was now operating as Aughinbaugh Canning Company. In the late 1950’s, Rosalis returned to buy out Virgilio’s remaining shares, and in a few years, he bought out Herman’s shares as well. Herman continued work in the seafood industry along with his two sons Danny and Victor, operating Gulf Shrimp & Oyster Company and Star Sales Agency up until their destruction in Hurricane Camille. He spent the rest of his working life as a guide and cook on the charter boat Becuna.
Outside of his career, Herman was very involved in his community; he and his family were members of the Biloxi Elks Lodge, Sunkist Country Club, and Nativity Catholic Church. Herman was also instrumental in the construction of the Texas Shrimp & Oyster Company in Palacious, Texas, which supplied additional product to Gulf Shrimp & Oyster Company.
Armindo Oliveria Soares passed away in 1993 at the age of 85. For his lifetime of service in the seafood industry, Herman’s family name of Soares was one of many commemorated with a plaque on the Golden Fisherman fountain, a memorial to Gulf Coast fishing families, which originally stood on Howard Avenue.