Saucier sculptor overcomes her own challenges to complete phase one of Fred Haise tribute statue for City of Biloxi

As we have all recently experienced, life can throw us for a loop sometimes.

Rewind nearly 50 years ago when Biloxi native and astronaut Fred Haise was aboard that fateful Apollo 13 spacecraft mission.

Fortunately, he lived to tell about it, is still alive today with the 50th anniversary of that mission just around the corner.

News 25’s Toni Miles shows us another mission to honor Haise that raised some challenges.

Saucier Sculptor Mary Ott Tremmel Davidson has completed phase one of her contribution to the city of Biloxi’s tribute honoring Fred Haise, a native known world-wide for the role he played nearly 50 years ago as an astronaut on that fateful Apollo 13 space mission.

Just last week, she put the finishing touches on Haise’s bust. “I knew the deadline from the very beginning was April 10th. He was supposed to be at a banquet as part of the promotion of what’s to come as far as the whole statue. I made the deadline. It’s just that COVID 19 decided otherwise.”

Mary faced a few challenges of her own as she launched this first phase of the project at the beginning of the year. “It’s been by the grace of God, but on February 24th, I did have bilateral mastectomy, and I am in the process of starting chemo, so, yes, there have been a number of personal things along with it, but he has been a tremendous help in keeping me focused on something.”

The city of Biloxi had initially planned a public unveiling here for the launch pad base, however because of the coronavirus and the CDC guidelines for social distancing, those plans had to be changed, but you can still catch the unveiling on Saturday at 1:13 p.m. via cyberspace on B-TV. Biloxi Mayor Andrew “Fofo” Gilich said, “Within about seven or eight months, I think the bronze statue will be mounted on top of this base of the Saturn V rocket.”

Davidson will soon begin chemotherapy, but face set like flint, and relying on faith, she’s determined to finish what she’s started and is about to begin the second phase of the project, working on the base of the Fred Haise statue.

And while Davidson had hoped to be on hand at this weekend’s event, several decades later to meet her hometown hero Fred Haise for a second time, she’ll have her hands full handling that dreaded c-word, not the coronavirus but cancer, but like all South Mississippians, she’s up for the challenge. “Again, it’s not me. It’s grace that’s helping me to do that.”

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