Billy Hewes has roots that trace back to the founding of the city of Gulfport. After finishing college, his parents left Mississippi to find work. They lived out of state for a few years, but were anxious to return home, and did so at the first opportunity. Billy’s father started his own business upon returning to Gulfport, and the couple now had a family to support. Weeks before hurricane Camille hit in August, 1969, Billy’s father and his uncle opened Hewes Brothers department store. It was located downtown on 25th Avenue. Billy and his brothers spent many a day in the store, learning the retail trade and developing a solid work ethic. They worked very hard, and were taught early on that regardless of the task, it was to be done correctly and to the best of their ability. “Our parents instilled in us to always do more than what was expected and always do a job right the first time,” Hewes said. The boys performed every job from janitorial services to receiving clerks, stock, and sales.
Growing up in Orange Grove, the outdoors were a favorite place for all family members. Billy’s mother was an accomplished artist and she encouraged him to be creative and to explore the world around him. “I have always had a great appreciation for the outdoors and our natural resources,” Hewes said. His father was a avid baseball fan and also a great coach. He taught his sons the finer points of the game, as well as guiding them through life’s lessons. Both parents had a dry, wicked sense of humor which was passed down to the boys. “We all love practical jokes and getting into mischief. A quick wit is a prized family attribute,” Hewes said. Family is everything to Billy Hewes, but the biggest influence in his life is his wife of 27 years, Paula. They have known each other since elementary school and he adores her to this day. “She lights up my world, brings laughter and joy, and is a constant source of confidence and strength,” he said. They are the proud parents of four children.
Hewes is the product of a public and private education, spending his elementary years in Catholic schools, and his middle and high school years in the public system where he immersed himself in student activities and had some wonderful teachers along the way. He attended Harrison Central and was in numerous clubs, took on campus leadership roles, played sports and was in the drum line. “There was never any doubt that I would go to USM and be a Golden Eagle. I continued to be very involved in campus activities and also found an interest in politics,” Hewes said. He thoroughly enjoyed his college years, and made great life-long friends.
In 1985, Hewes was hired by Nationwide Insurance Company right out of college. He started a brand new, scratch agency in Gulfport. At the time, Billy Hewes, Sr. had a Nationwide agency as well so they combined operations and worked together. Hewes, Sr. started the real estate arm of the firm in 1987, and retired from the insurance side of the operation a few years ago. “Customer service and community involvement have been the hallmarks of our businesses, and we have been blessed with a professional staff who takes pride in providing personalized service in a friendly atmosphere,” Hewes said.
When Billy completed his legislative service, he began a consulting business called Capitol Gain, assisting clients with political and community affairs issues in South Mississippi and at the Capitol.
Giving back to the community was of great importance in the Hewes family. They were always eager participants in church, various civic clubs, and even dabbled in politics. They felt that staying neutral or maintaining the status quo was not an option. Forming relationships and broadening horizons was key to developing new perspectives and new attitudes. “We are better people because of the type of community we are fortunate enough to live in, and feel it is a responsibility to be involved,” said Hewes. He continued, “As the saying goes, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. There is a certain expectation that comes from being a responsible citizen and bringing credit to your name. These are lessons my wife and I have tried to instill in our children as well.”
Getting involved in politics was a given. Hewes wanted to make a difference and have more of an impact. He spent twenty years at the Capitol and felt that they were the most rewarding years of his life. During his last term, he was selected by his peers to serve as the number three constitutional officer in Mississippi, as Senate President Pro Tempore. Hewes is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to represent South Mississippi’s interests in Jackson. Charitable organizations are particularly important to Hewes. Most near and dear are Boy Scouts of America, Goodwill Industries, Feed My Sheep, the Salvation Army, and the Humane Society of South Mississippi. Billy Hewes has alway supported local youth sports activities and has membership in the local Chambers of Commerce and civic clubs.
The favorite family passtime is being out on the water. Billy loves to fish and spend time on Ship and ChandeleurIslands. Other hobbies include reading, writing, and music. Billy has played a set of drums since age 9, and duringthe long trips to and from Jackson during legislative sessions, learned to play the harmonica! “My day jobs occupy most of my time and pay the bills, but I do get an itch to play and sing from time-to-time, so on occasion I like to sit in with some friends or play a random gig.”
Billy Hewes has announced his intentions to seek the Office of Mayor of Gulfport in the 2013 municipal elections. Go To Places Monthly wishes him well and is proud to name him as our Mover and Shaker for the month of October.