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Kelly Wise Gym a piece of Picayune Memorial High School history

The Kelly Wise Gym was named in honor of former student and basketball team champion, Kelly Wise, who died in the 1966 Crosby Chemical explosion. Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

The Kelly Wise Gym was named in honor of former student and basketball team champion, Kelly Wise, who died in the 1966 Crosby Chemical explosion.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

Picayune High School’s Kelly Wise Gym has been home to many victories and has seen many students pass through its doors. Those games and students have been the subject of stories, but what about the story behind the gym’s name.

Kelly Wise was a student at Picayune High School from 1962 – 1966. After graduating in 1966, he took a summer job at Crosby Chemical Company plant before he started school at Pearl River Junior College.

On his last week at the plant, an explosion occurred, which left him severely burned. Wise later died of his injuries at Crosby Memorial Hospital.

The Picayune Item wrote in 1966 that Wise was a member of the 1965-66-championship basketball team, an honor student, served on the student council for four years and was a student council officer in his senior year.

On Jan. 6, 1967, the new junior high school gym was dedicated to Wise. Over 2,000 people attended the dedication and basketball game that followed.

At the dedication, then basketball head coach Larry Ladner, said, “Kelly Wise exemplified everything that I would ever hope that our Maroon Tide basketball players or students of Picayune Memorial High School would. He was truly an idealist, the kind of boy we would want our own to be.”

Superintendent and former head boy’s basketball coach, Dean Shaw, said there were very few games that the basketball team lost at the Kelly Wise Gym while he was coach.

“Out of all the high school gyms I’ve ever coached or played in, Kelly Wise gym is my favorite,” Shaw said.

He said the great atmosphere of the gym allows the team to have an advantage at home and it’s not a pleasant place for the visiting team to come play.

“Our players and fans take great pride in the Kelly Wise Gym,” Shaw said.

The next chance for local fans to see action at Kelly Wise come tonight when the Picayune Maroon Tide tries to snap a two game losing streak by hosting the St. Stanislaus Rockashaws.