GRAND BAY, Ala. (WALA) – It started with the slimmest of clues – an account of a 4-year-old who died during Hurricane Frederic 40 years ago this week.
FOX10 News will mark the anniversary of that storm in a two-part special, “Winds of Destruction: 40 Years Later,” which will air Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Among the stories in that lineup is the tale of Alabama’s only death directly attributable to the storm. FOX10 News wanted to tell that story, but the details nearly had been lost to history. There are no in-depth accounts of the death.
At first, it was not even clear what the child’s gender was. An Associated Press story the day after Frederic made landfall referred to a 4-year-old boy dying. The Press-Register, which was unable to publish for two days following the storm, later referenced a 4-year-old girl.
After hours sorting through old newspaper clippings, a name finally emerged – Eula Arlene Bosarge.
But the newspaper story naming the victim was scant on details. It merely reported that a mobile home in Grand Bay overturned.
Ancrestry.com, a genealogy website used by millions of people to uncover the life stories of their ancestors, contained a record of Eula’s burial at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Bayou La Batre. More importantly, Ancestry.com offered the name of Eula’s parents.
From there, a research database turned up a bunch of leads. And some old-fashioned door-knocking led to Lawrence Bosarge, a retired commercial fisherman who was the little girl’s father.
“She was a little angel. … She would have been 44 years old,” he said.
Bosarge was not with Eula or his ex-wife and his other daughter when Frederic came ashore.
“I found out the next day, you know,” he told FOX10 News. “But it devasted me.”
COMING THURSDAY: See the full account online and on air about how Frederic took the life of Eula Bosarge.