Jack Knight, Valdosta State Slugger

Jack Knight (March 2, 1934 – November 28, 2009)

As a young man, Judge William Daniel “Jack” Knight was among the hometown athletes of Ray City, GA. He was , son of Elias M. “Hun” Knight and Gladys Daniel Knight.

Jack Knight, Class of 1951, Ray City School, Ray City, GA

Jack Knight was raised at Ray City, GA where he attended the Ray City public schools. His father built the Mayhaw Lake Resort in 1914 and was a farmer and businessman of Ray City. Jack graduated with the Ray City High School class of 1951.  He continued his education at Valdosta State College. He excelled at sports in high school and college; he was the leading scorer for the Ray City Beavers basketball team, and was a member of the first baseball team ever fielded by Valdosta State College.

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA

Jack Knight with the 1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA. Team mates at Ray City included Billy Moore, Wendell Clements, Curtis Skinner, James Walter Temples, Jimmy Gaskins, Murray Comer, Thomas Studstill, Charles Scarboro, Robert Conner Jimmy Grissett, Talton Rouse, and Junior Cornelius.

Jack graduated from VSC with a Bachelor of Science degree, and went on to the University of Georgia Law School where he received his L. L. B. degree.  He practiced law in Nashville, Georgia.  He served as a Ray City Councilman, State Representative, and as a judge of the Superior Courts of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, 1977-1996.

Jack Knight on the 1955 Valdosta State College baseball team.

Jack Knight played on the 1955 Valdosta State College baseball team.  The VSC Rebel Diamondmen included Jack Knight and Murray Comer of Ray City, GA, Sam McGowen, Buck Pafford, Ashley Hill, Jack Bates, Ed Deaton, John Mobley, Gene Gray, Robert McElvey, Milton Blaine, Bob Green, Noel George, Coach Cottingham.

The Valdosta State College baseball team, under the coaching of Walter Cottingham, showed up very well under fire last year.  VSC is entering its second year of intercollegiate baseball competition and has become affiliated with the Georgia Intercollegiate Baseball Conference. A total of eighteen games are scheduled for this season. Victory may not be certain but excitement is!  – 1955 VSC Pinecone

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SAVE THE DATE!

Many interesting sports stories are coming to light as the Berrien County Historical Foundation prepares for an exhibit on  Hometown Teams, A Smithsonian Exhibit. The Hometown Teams Exhibit opens August 13 – September 24, 2016, at the Nashville Community Center, Nashville, GA.

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Billy Clements was a Combat Engineer

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

On August 2, 1942, William A. “Billy” Clements enlisted “for the duration of the War.”  He was inducted first as an Army private at Fort Mcpherson, Atlanta, GA.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

Billy had four years of college education, and after basic training it was decided his “civilian occupation, training and background were more suited for conversion to Specialist use in the Engineer Corps than in other branches of the services…The army engineer is a builder as well as a combat soldier.”  It was in 1942 that the construction of domestic military bases reached its peak.

On October 5, 1942 The Atlanta Constitution reported William A. Clements had been transferred to the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

William A. "Billy" Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

William A. “Billy” Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

The Atlanta Constitution
October 5, 1942

The Army and Navy

Fourteen Georgians are now stationed at the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
    From Atlanta are Herbert C. Johnson, of 476 Lytle avenue, S. E. and James B. Owen, of 1189 McLendon avenue.
    Other Georgians are: Earl L. Nash, of 3787 Highland avenue, Hapeville: Thomas B. Jordan, of Greenville; Roy W. Smith, of Jonesboro; Philip E. Williams, of Colquitt; Glen B. Phillips, of Forest Park; James E. Terrell, of North Roswell; Charles A Lindsey, of Dalton; Arthur L. Long, of Woodbury; Robert F. Meek, of Smyrna; William A. Clements, of Ray City; John V. Benson, of Nelson, and Frank W. McCrae, of Raleigh.

New arrivals at Fort Leonard Wood were greeted with a pamphlet, Introdution to ERTC Fort Leonard Wood,  which provided an orientation to the base and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The prime reason for your being here is to be trained as a combat engineer.  You will learn the use of hand and motorized tools, to construct fixed and floating bridges, to build roads and obstacles, to execute demolitions, and to protect yourself against  enemy attacks.

WW II era yearbook, Fort Leonard Wood

After the War, Billy Clements returned to Ray City, GA. He later became the owner of the Victory Soda Shop, Ray City’s iconic landmark of World War II.

Billy Clements (left) on Main Street outside the Victory Soda Shop after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Billy Clements (left) after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

 
 

The Berrien Press 
February 2006

The Berrien Press — William A. “Billy” Clements, 88, of Ray City died February 2, 2006 at Louis Smith Memorial Hospital in Lakeland. Born October 3, 1917 in Berrien County to the late William A. and Mary  Elizabeth Clements, he owned and operated Victory Soda Shop in Ray City for 33 years. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was a member of First  Baptist Church in Ray City. Survivors include his wife, Helen Wood Clements of Ray City; three sons, Richard Clements of Chula, David Clements of Ray City, Chris Clements of Virginia Beach, VA; two sisters, Ann Ryals of Valdosta and Grace Howell of  Houston, TX; one brother, Wendell Lee Clements of Conyers; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held February 5 at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Ray City. Interment was in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Music Funeral Services of Lakeland was in charge of arrangements.

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