He suffered a long illness from a rare disease called multiple system atrophy.
Ray was a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. The Wilson family came to Camden County in 1976, when Ray became a teacher at Camden County High School for the automotive program. Teaching was Ray’s passion and he made a great impact on his students by teaching them the automotive trade, as well as life’s vital lessons.
Ray learned his trade first as a child of the Depression, where he had to build his first car just to have a way to get to work. He graduated from Emanuel County Institute in 1959 and joined the U.S. Army, where he worked in the motor pool. Instead of learning more about automotive repair, he spent most of his time driving his commanding officer around the Hawaii base. After his tour in the service, Ray came home to Georgia, where he worked at a car dealership as a service technician and went to tech school at night.
He met and later married his wife, Mary Claxton of Swainsboro, in 1964. They share two children and made Camden County their home.
Ray retired from teaching at the high school in 2001, but he still remained a teacher to the people he saw every day. He also continued to teach students in his dreams at night, often turning wrenches, sometimes even wrenching his wife’s fingers in his sleep. He never ceased to use his automotive skills to help anyone in need. He was an integrative part of Skills USA (once known as VICA), where he had many students that went on to compete in local, state and national competitions. He continued working with students in Skills USA as an advisor long after he retired. Some of these students have gone on to become leaders in the community and in other areas around the world.
Ray was also very active in his faith as a member of Kingsland First Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday school, headed the transportation committee of the church, fixed vans and buses and became a deacon throughout his years as a church member. He also did a little acting in church related plays.
Ray was known to many of his students as “Ray-Ray” and later became known as “Flash” to his friends and church peers. He never believed in doing things fast and in a hurry; he believed in doing it right the first time no matter how long it took. He also was known as “Papa” to his five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Ray leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Mary Wilson; two children, Mark E. Wilson (Carrie) of Castle Rock, Colo., and Donna R. Wilson of Woodbine; five grandchildren, Brandon M. Minter (Kim) of Kingsland, Kasey L. Minter of Woodbine, Ryan D. Minter of Statesboro, Melissa L. Wilson and Dillon R. Wilson, both of Castle Rock; one great-grandchild and another expected in October. Ray also leaves behind his brother, Edwin L. Wilson (Louise) of Twin City; his special nephew, Jeffrey L. (Barbara) Wilson; and several nieces and nephews.
Calling hours for Mr. Wilson were from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Coastal Camden Funeral Home in Kingsland. Funeral services started at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 13, in the new sanctuary of Kingsland First Baptist Church, with Pastor John Jenkins presiding. The eulogy was presented by Carlos Jones Jr. Interment was at 11 a.m. Monday, April 14, in Coleman Cemetery near Twin City.
The family requests that any donations be made to Hospice of the Golden Isles, Autism Speaks or Multiple System Atrophy Coalition to further the research of this disease.
Coastal Camden Funeral Home in Kingsland is entrusted with Mr. Wilson’s arrangements.