Juanelle Wilson, Mayor of Ray City

Juanelle Wilson, Mayor of Ray City

Juanelle Wilson, 1986, Mayor of Ray City, GA

Juanelle Wilson, 1986, Mayor of Ray City, GA

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Juanelle Wilson was elected May of Ray City, GA, 1986

Juanelle Wilson was elected Mayor of Ray City, GA, 1986

Valdosta Times
January 20, 1986

Ray City Gets First Female Mayor

RAY CITY- For the first time in the history of Ray City, a woman has been elected as the mayor.

Juanelle Wilson was sworn into office at City Hall by City Clerk Betty Shearl Jan. 7.

She is excited about her election. “I was pleased to know people wanted me and supported me,” she said.

Mrs. Wilson, wife of Don A. Wilson, isn’t a newcomer to the political arena. She ran for the Ray City mayor’s office unsuccessfully three times, the first being in 1973. But later that year she was placed on the City Council by a special election and has been very active in politics since that time.

In addition to serving on city council, she has worked as city clerk and she still serves as director of the Ray City Bicentennial Park.  Mrs. Wilson would like to see a swimming pool and tennis court added to the park in the near future.

She is also active with the homecoming committee, which is in charge of annual homecoming activities on tap for the July 4th weekend celebration in Ray City.

“I have worked as hard as I could and enjoyed every minute of it,” she said of her hectic schedule.  Mrs. Wilson sees a progressive year for Ray City.  She would like to see the sewer system upgraded and a multi-housing plan started. She adds that a small industry would also contribute to the city’s expansion.

Mrs. Wilson attended Mayor’s Day in Atlanta where she sought funds for the projects she has on the agenda. “When we lift the face of the city, we need to lift mine, too,” she joked.

She said her husband and their only grandchild, Miriam, who lives with them, are excited for her and supportive of her endeavors.

No one in Mrs. Wilson’s family was ever interested in politics, with the  exception of her grandfather, the late Fred Purvis of Berrien County. She said whenever he served on the jury, he usually would up bringing some of his fellow jurors home for the night, if they lived too far away.

“I like people,” said Mrs. Wilson. “I have to be around people.” She has good rapport with the city’s council members. They are Willie James Doe, Raymond Bailey, Johnny Cooper and Eston Giddens.

At one time, a telephone service which contacted senior citizens on a daily basis to ensure their safety, was operative in the city. Mrs. Wilson would like to see this project re-established.

“We desperately need a community center to be used for the youth and senior citizens as a gathering place,” said Mrs. Wilson.  She sees that as one of her goals.

Mrs.Wilson said she feels her efforts for the city and the people who live there will be successful. “I think I’ll have their support and I’ll do the best job I can,” she said.

The 62-year-old mayor, who will celebrate her birthday Feb. 17, was born in Atlanta. Her father, the late Henry L. Starling, was a student of Georgia Tech on the GI Bill at that time. Mrs. Wilson said her father designed the tobacco flue and that required her family to move constantly. Her family returned to Berrien County when she was 6 months old.

Mrs. Wilson and her husband were married on Jan. 14, 1943. She and her husband move 22 time during his 27 1/2 years of service in the Air Force. “It was fun traveling and being part of the communities,” she said.

The Wilsons have two children, Barbara Joyce, who lives near Ray City, and a son, Dale Allen of San Diego, Calif.

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Robert J. Starling was at Emory College, Valdosta, GA 1948

Emory at Valdosta

Robert J. “Bob” Starling, a son of Henry Laverne Starling and Allie Purvis, attended the Emory College campus in Valdosta in 1948. His father was the school lunchroom supervisor at Ray City, and his grandfather, Juniper Griffis Starling, was a pioneer settler of Coffee County, GA.

Bob Starling grew up in his father’s household on Park Street in Ray City, and attended the Ray City School along with his brothers and sisters. The Starling kids were all involved in the Glee Club. In 1939, Bob and his sister, Wylda Starling, played in the school’s Symphonet Band, along with Lamar Hardy, Fain Guthrie, Ferrell Herring, Barbara Swindle, Annie Martha Grisset, Lois Burkhalter, Kenneth Cameron, Billy Creech, Casswell Yawn, and Sadie Griner. His older siblings, Hubert C Starling and Juanelle Starling sang with the school chorus.

Robert J. Starling, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

Robert J. Starling, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

Bob Starling went on to become Dr. Robert J. Starling. He married a nurse, Frances Carolyn Singletary, and practiced medicine in Donalsonville, GA.  He eventually purchased the hospital in Donalsonville and he and Frances operated it for many years.

A writer on the Donalsonville Forum: Remember the Good Ole Days, posted in 2011:

Dr Earle Moseley built the facility and it was known as Moseley Clinic and Hospital until his death in 1963. After that time, Dr Bob Starling purchased the hospital and it was renamed “Seminole Memorial Hospital”. Dr Jake Holley came that same year and joined him. Later he was joined by Dr Lewis Chisholm for a while, then later Dr Charlie O Walker.

Another writer in 2008 recalled the doctor’s bedside manner:

“Doctor Starling was such a kind and gentle man. I was never afraid of going to him as a child. I wish he was still around for my own children. I cut my hand when I was a senior in High School, and he was on call in the emergency room that day at lunch. I had never been to him; we always went to old man Dr.B….But Dr. Starling took me in, and soothed me quickly. He had 6 stitches in my hand before I could squeeze out another tear for my mom !! I remember Fran and Scott Starling, Linda and Robert too.They always had the best Halloween decorations!”

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