By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – There is no argument about the tremendous professional contribution that came to Slidell from Pat Miramon, longtime developer and homebuilder who was credited with creating over 10,000 home sites in the area during nearly 70 years leading the St. Tammany industry.
On Monday at St. Luke Catholic Church Miramon was remembered by hundreds who turned out to pay their respects after the Slidell developer passed away on Friday night. But most of the longtime business leaders and public officials talked much more about the personal side of the man who was called “loyal, generous, a mentor and a great friend to many.”Miramon had been suffering with complications from heart problems for several years. During the past 12 months his condition worsened as he celebrated his 91st birthday, several times coming close to death, but always rallying to come back strong. Incredibly, Miramon never stopped going to work at his office on Gause Boulevard, still keeping his hand in the real estate and homebuilding business that he loved.
Last week, however, Miramon’s disease took over for the final time before he passed away in his home with his wife Gloria, four daughters and family members at his side.
On Monday at St. Luke, where he donated land and helped to build the facilities there along with other buildings at Slidell Catholic Churches in the area, many former business leaders in Slidell, and former public officials, showed up to pay their final respects to the man who was heralded as one of the most generous and giving businessmen ever, all while he went to great effort to shun the attention for all that he did.
“He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known and I don’t think you can ever gauge his contributions to Slidell,” Deep South Gold owner Mike Perkins said.
Perkins connected as friends with Miramon in the mid-90s when a group of Slidell businessmen would meet each morning for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel restaurant.
“He would see me and we would talk about our love of going to the casino and having fun,” Perkins said. “There was one day 15 years ago he sat down with me and he never left.”
Perkins had breakfast with Miramon almost every day for the past 15 years, eventually moving to the Waffle House on Gause Boulevard where it was normal to see Miramon, Perkins and others together at 7:30 a.m.
“He was absolutely my best friend,” Perkins said. “He was kind and funny—that’s what I most remember. And he was so generous—you had to fight him to ever have a chance to pay for breakfast.”
Slidell attorney Tom Thornhill also met Miramon several decades ago and used the same words many others did. “His word was his bond. He was a leader and a developer who was extremely respectful to the business world. He was a giant professionally, but he was a helper to so many. When someone needed something, he supported you—especially the way he always helped genuinely good people.”
Former Slidell Mayor Webb Hart called Miramon “the most loyal friend I’ve ever known. As for his impact on Slidell, he built Slidell. One insurance man I knew years ago used to say that someone very special was ‘a rare bird.’ Pat Miramon was certainly a rare bird.”
St. Joe Brick owner Pete Schneider said “Pat was a leader and a mentor to many people. But he was especially a great example of giving back. I think I most like to remember him as something else—he was a cool guy.”
“Most people don’t know how generous Pat was,” former Slidell Sentry-News Publisher Terry Maddox said. “He was such a down to earth person that most people would never know he had money and was so successful.
“He did so much for this community and it seemed that he liked everybody,” he added.
Bruce Clement called Miramon “a role model for many. I remember what a great laugh he had and such a good sense of humor, but he was serious when it came to business.”
Longtime Slidell insurance agent John Case said “this whole city is his creation,” while former Slidell Councilman Ray Canada added “I can’t think of anyone who did more for Slidell.”
Former Parish President Kevin Davis was like many who said they met Miramon “because he built my parents house.” Davis later started an electrical company that handled much of Miramon’s homebuilding work.
“He was a good man, a friendly man and someone who had a tremendous impact on development in our parish,” he said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that he always believed that people of all income levels deserved a chance to have a new home.”
Miramon was among the first in the parish to help establish code enforcement, inspections of homes and fought for smaller lot sizes that would allow middle class families to afford a new home.
“He was always working for affordable housing for everyone, not just those who could afford more expensive homes,” early St. Tammany Homebuilder member Bruce Olivier said. “He was so innovative in what we were trying to accomplish here. He was a great entrepreneur, a great community leader, but also a great friend.”
David Champagne was one of Miramon’s early superintendents who worked with him for 15 years. “I always tell people I got my undergraduate at SLU, and my Master’s from Pat Miramon.”
Don McMath also went to work for Miramon after marrying one of the four Miramon daughters. He eulogized his father-in-law and friend at the Mass on Monday at St. Luke, recalling another time that Miramon’s unselfish side was seen.
“I had worked for Pat for 20 years, then one day he came to me and told me I needed to go on my own, which would mean I would compete with him,” McMath said. “I didn’t want to go. He later came to me again and said it was time.
“I now look at that as the greatest thing anyone had ever done for me. He would have been selfish to keep me and that’s why he wanted me to go, since he knew it would allow me to do my own thing and build my own business,” he recalled.
J.V. Burkes, the longtime engineer in Slidell became acquainted with Miramon in 1962 and handled his design work for over 50 years.
“The thing everyone knew about Pat was that he lived by his word,” Burkes said. “What I most remember is that if you got to know him, you couldn’t help but like him.”
Miramon is survived by his wife Gloria and his four daughters, Debbie McMath, Donna Campbell, Dolly Miramon and Denise Miramon, along with 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.