Obituary of Helen Baskin Pierce

Helen Baskin, born February 2, 1920, was a daughter of  Minnie Lee Hancock Baskin and Armstrong B. “Bee” Baskin.   In 1941, Helen Baskin was a sophomore at Georgia Teachers College (now Georgia Southern University). In 1943 she married  Wilmont C. Pierce.  After WWII, the couple made their home at Ray City, where Wilmont  engaged in farming with Helen’s father.   In 1968, the Pierces moved from Ray City to Valdosta, GA.

Obituary of Helen Baskin Pierce (1920-2004)

AXSON — Helen Baskin Pierce, 84, of Axson, passed away Tuesday, June 1, 2004, at South Georgia Medical Center, Valdosta, following a long illness. Mrs. Pierce was born on Feb. 2, 1920, growing up in Lanier County, the daughter of the late Armstrong B. Baskin and Minne Lee Hancock Baskin. She was preceded in death by her brothers and sister, John W. Baskin, Lakeland, Ga., Curtis L. Baskin, Groves, Texas, Louie Baskin, Alma, Ga., and Mary Frances Blalock, Atlanta.

She retired in June 1986, after serving 27 years as a civil service employee in Atlanta at Warner Robins Air Force Base and Moody Air Force Base. She served in various capacities at First Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga., her home church, before moving to Valdosta in 1968, where she was a member of First Baptist Church there. Currently, she resided in Coffee County and was a member of Stokesville Baptist Church.

Mrs. Pierce is survived by her husband of 61 years, Wilmont Candler Pierce, Axson; her sons, Michael J. Pierce, Olathe, Kan., W. Candler Pierce (Mary Ann), Richmond, R.I., Bobby L. Pierce (Kay), Axson; her grandchildren, Wade C. Pierce, Orlando, Fla., Keith H. Pierce, Tampa, Fla., M. Andrew Pierce, Bayminette, Ala., Jessica, Andrea and Justin Pierce Richmond, R.I., Lynn Eslinger (Jason), Cleveland, Tenn., Kim Hunter (Tim), Valdosta, and Krista L. Pierce, Valdosta, as well as three great-grandchildren. Her extended family included J.C. and Evelyn Pierce, Crawfordville, Ga., Howard and Dot Ray, Ray City, Jessie Hudson, Valdosta, McDonald and Betty Pierce and Dilmus and Burma Pierce, Lakeland, Vanelle Baskin, Gloria Baskin, Groves, Texas; 17 nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends at Music Funeral Services, Lakeland, Ga., from 6-9 p.m. this evening. Mrs. Pierce will lie in state at First Baptist Church, Ray City, from 10-11 a.m. June 4, 2004. Memorial services will begin at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Lee Graham and the Rev. Bob L. Pierce officiating. Burial will follow in Unity United Methodist Church Cemetery near Lakeland, Ga. Sympathy may be expressed online at — Music Funeral Services of Lakeland

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On this date, September 6, 75 years ago today, the Ray City School opened the 1937 school year. A week before classes, on September 2, 1937 the Nashville Herald ran an outlook for the new school year.  Prentice Munson Shultz was Superintendent of the school at Ray City, Georgia that year.  He served as Superintendent of the Ray City School from 1929 to 1941, and his wife, Wilma Harper Shultz, taught first grade.


Nashville Herald
September 2, 1937

Plans Complete For Fine School Year – Fine Faculty Has Been Secured By P.M. Shultz, Supt.

    The Ray City School will open Monday, Sept. 6, at 9 a.m.
    All students are urgently requested to be present at the opening hour. This is very important as complete organization cannot be perfected to meet the needs of all students unless they are present at the beginning of the term so that teachers may know what their needs are or will be. Likewise, it is important that each boy and girl is present to give their application for free text books so that teachers may make requisition for same. Regular basic thexts throughout all grades will be furnished by the state but all workbooks, notebooks, other supplies, etc. are to be furnished by the pupil.
    As customary in preceeding years a small library fee of fifty cents per pupil will b charged each boy and girl in the High School grades. This fee is to be used as a library fund for upkeep of the library in buying books, magazines, etc.  This will enable each student to have accrss to reading material that otherwise could not be had.  Each student is ask to pay this fee on day of entrance.
    All parents and friends of the school are especially invited to accompany their children to school and to attend the opening exercises.  Not only are they invited to visit the school on the opening day but are invited to visit the school at any tie they can throughout the school year. This will give them a better understanding of the school and will help to encourage both students and pupils.
    Care has been taking in selecting the best teachers possible for the ensuing year. They are as follows:
P.M. Shultz, Superintendent
W.R. Salter, History and Science, Coach
Mrs. Irene H. Tollet, English, Librarian
To be supplied – French
Miss Mildred Vail, Public School music
Miss Hazel Tabor, Seventh Grade
Miss Ellene Jones, Sixth Grade
Mrs. Thomas Exum, Fifth Grade
Miss Mary Francis Baskins, Fourth Grade
Miss Lillian Ford, Third Grade
Mrs. P.M. Shultz, First Grade
Prospects are that the coming term should be one of the most successful in the history of the school.

Baskin – Brady Wedding

The engagement and wedding of Mary Frances Baskin may have been one of the most widely publicized society events in Ray City history.    The story of her engagement announcement in the spring of 1943 was the subject of an earlier post (see Engagement of Mary Frances Baskin) and  was closely followed in the Atlanta newspapers. The Baskin-Brady wedding took place at the Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Mary Frances Baskin grew up in Ray City, GA.  In the late 1930s she was a school teacher  at the Ray City School, and later she taught in the Atlanta school system.  

The May 23, 1943  Atlanta Social Pages included the brief announcement of plans for a summer wedding:

Atlanta Constitution
May 23, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, announce the engagement of their daughter, Mary Frances, of Atlanta, to William Lester Brady Jr., of this city, the marriage to take place in the late summer at the Druid Hills Baptist church.

Druid Hills Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, circa 1942.

Druid Hills Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, circa 1942.

Apparently plans changed and the wedding was postponed until the fall. The papers reported that prominent Baptist minister Dr. Louie D. Newton would perform the ceremony.

Atlanta Constitution
November 19, 1943

Baskin-Brady Wedding Planned

    Miss Mary Frances Baskin and William L. Brady Jr. have planned their marriage for Monday at 11 a.m. in the study of Dr. Louie E. Newton, at the Druid Hills Baptist church.
    Dr. Newton will officiate in the presence of only members of the two families and a small group of friends. Miss Helen Baskin, of Macon, will be maid of honor and only attendant for her sister, and Rev. J. Milton Richardson, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal church, will be the best man. The couple will fly to New Orleans for their honeymoon.
    Miss Baskin is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, Ga., and her father will give her in marriage. She resides here, where she is a member of the Atlanta public school system. Mr. Brady is the son of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Brady, and is manager of the Paramount theater.  The engagement of the young couple was announced last May.

Dr. Louie D. Newton

Dr. Louie D. Newton


Dr. Louie De Votie Newton performed the marriage of Mary Frances Baskin to William L. Brady, Jr. in his study at the Druid Hills Baptist Church on November 23, 1943.

 According to Wikipedia, Newton became pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929.  He wrote a daily newspaper column for the Atlanta Constitution and Savannah Morning News, titled “Good Morning,” and weekly columns for the Christian Index. He was the author of several books, and did a radio show on WGST-Atlanta.   In 1943 he was a co-founder of the Georgia Temperance League. In 1946,  he was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. That summer he was invited by Stalin to visit with leaders of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia.  Upon his return, some accused him of  being a communist sympathizer. Newton was president of the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1950 and 1951. Later he was vice president of the Baptist World Alliance.  He retired as pastor of the Druid Hills Baptist Church in October 1968. He died of pneumonia in 1986 at the age of 94.

Atlanta Constitution
November 23, 1943

Miss Baskin Wed To W. L. Brady Jr. In Pastor’s Study

    Miss Mary Frances Baskin and William L. Brady Jr., were married yesterday morning in the study of Dr. Louie D. Newton, pastor of the Druid Hills Baptist church. Dr. Newton officiated at 11 a.m. in the presence of only members of the two families and out-of-town guests.
    Miss Helen Baskin, of Macon, was her sister’s maid of honor and only attendant. She was becomingly gowned in a model of navy blue and her flowers were gardenias.  Rev. Milton Richardson, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal church, was best man for Mr. Brady.
    The bride, who is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, Ga., was given in marriage by her father. A lovely brunette, she was handsomely gowned in her traveling suit of aquamarine wool, worn with harmonizing accessories. She carried a bouquet of orchids.
    Mrs. Baskin, the brides mother, wore black crepe with black accessories, and her flowers were gardenias. Mrs. Brady, the groom’s mother, was also in black and wore gardenias.
    After the ceremony, the bridal couple left by plane for New Orleans where they will spend their honeymoon. Upon their return they will reside at 878 Drewry street.
    Out-of-town guests were: Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Baskin and Mrs. J.B. Baskin, of Ray City; Miss Mary Davis, Buchanan; Mrs. Arlie D. Tucker, Auburn, Ala.; Mr. and Mrs. Harris Dill, Ocilla; Miss Helen Baskin, Macon; Mrs. Allie Hayes Richardson, Rome; Mrs. Etta Ramsay, Toccoa; Mrs. Ida H. Moseley, Albany.


Atlanta Constitution
December 1, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. William L. Brady have returned from New Orleans, La., where they spent their honeymoon.  Mrs. Brady is the former Miss Mary Frances Baskin and her marriage to Mr. Brady was an event of November 22.

Engagement of Mary Frances Baskin

Mary Frances Baskin was born about 1918 and raised at Ray City, Berrien County, GA.  Her parents  were long time residents of Ray City.  At the time of her birth her parents had a house in Ray City on Pauline Street, just north of Johnson Street, near the present day location of the Ray City Community Library.  The Baskins also maintained a residence out at the old Baskin home place located in present day Lanier County.

Mary Frances’ father, Armstrong  B. Baskin, was known as “B” Baskin.  He was one of the more affluent members of the Ray City Baptist Church and was very active in the church.  Later, he served on the Lanier County Board of Education.  Mary Frances’ mother, Minnie Lee Hancock Baskin, was a school teacher in Lanier County for 21 years. In 1958, Minnie Lee received national attention when she lost her job after allowing a white child to ride with African-American children on a segregated school bus (Education: The Crime of Minnie Lee).

Mary Frances Baskin grew up to become a school teacher, herself, and taught  at the Ray City School in the late 1930s.  Later, she taught in the Atlanta School System.   In 1943, the Atlanta newspapers announced her engagement to William Lester Brady, Jr.

Atlanta Constitution
May 23, 1943

Miss Mary Frances Baskin To Wed William L. Brady Jr.

    RAY CITY, Ga.,  May 22. – Wide social interest centers in an announcement made today by Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, of the engagement of their daughter, Miss Mary Frances Baskin, of Atlanta, to William Lester Brady Jr., of Atlanta, the marriage to be a fashionable event taking place at the Druid Hills Baptist church in the late summer, the exact date and wedding plans to be announced later.
    The beautiful bride-elect is the sister of Miss Helen Baskin,  of Macon, and her brothers are Quartermaster Sergeant John W. Baskin, Parris Island, S.C., Curtis Baskin, and Louis Baskin, both of Ray City.
    Miss Baskin’s mother is the former Miss Minnie Lee Hancock, of Nashville, daughter of E.L. Hancock and the late Mrs. Hancock, who was before her marriage Miss Mary Brown, daughter of John Brown and Jane Paulk Brown, John Brown being a casualty of the War Between the States.  Her paternal grandparents are the late James Baskin and Mrs. Baskin of Ray City.
    Miss Baskin received an A.B. degree from Bessie Tift College in the class of ’37. She was a member of the Sigma Delta Chi sorority. In 1938 she did post graduate work in library science at the University of Georgia. She is a teacher in the Atlanta public schools and is a talented pianist.  In Atlanta she resides with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Baskin.
    Like his bride-to-be, Mr. Brady is a descendant of prominent families.  He is the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Lester Brady, of Atlanta. His mother, before her marriage was Miss Bertha Vileeta Hayes, of Toccoa. His maternal grandparents were the late Mr. and Mrs. William Jasper Hayes, of Toccoa. His paternal grandparents were the late Mr. and Mrs. George Thomas Brady, of Harrisburg, Pa.  A brother, Joseph Vickery Brady, is completing training at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck, N.Y. Another brother, Luther Hayes Brady, was reported missing in action by the Navy last September.
     The groom-elect is a graduate of Atlanta Boys’ High school. He attended Emory University where he majored in public affairs. While at Emory he was a manager of the Emory Glee Club, editor of the Emory Wheel, member of D.V.S. senior honor society, a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, and was listed in “Who’s who in American College and Universities.” He is a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and is director of the Young People’s Training Union of the Druid Hills Baptist church.  He is now advertising director of the Rialto theater.

The Baskin-Brady wedding took place in Atlanta.

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