Sawyer Robert Wimberly, Jr., born November 12, 1926 on his family farm in Ringgold, Louisiana, died November 20, 2023. He was preceded in death by his father Sawyer Robert Wimberly Sr. and mother Mini Lee Pate Wimberly; siblings Robert, Ben, Alice, Jack, John, R.B., Ruth Roberts, and Ruby Russell; wife of 73 years Rebecca (Beckie) Louise Williams Wimberly; and grandson David Wesley Duke. He is survived by four children Donna W. Hall, Dianne W. Duke, (William) David Wimberly, and Robert Sawyer Wimberly Sr, and 30 grandchildren spanning 3 generations.
Sawyer graduated from high school in 1944 at the age of 16, and started college at Louisiana Tech the same year. He met Beckie on a blind date in the Fall of the following year when she came to ‘Tech’. Only two months later, on his 18th birthday he hitchhiked with a cousin to New Orleans and enlisted in the Merchant Marines to avoid being drafted into the Army. Little did he know that the war casualty rate was higher among the Merchant Marines than any other military branch. He was trained and served as a radio operator, served two years, and made three voyages: to the Philippines aboard the SS Charles Piez, to Japan on the SS Arthur Riggs, and to Europe on the Texarkana Victory (converted to a troop carrier to bring soldiers home). Throughout that time he remained in communication with Beckie, and would see her when on leave between voyages. He and Beckie were married within two months of his discharge from the Merchant Marines, and borrowed his brother John’s car for their honeymoon.
Sawyer and Beckie lived in temporary military housing at Louisiana Tech, a community known as ‘Vetville’. Beckie graduated first and worked in the Registrar’s Office doing what she always called majoring in PHTS – Put Hubby Through School. Donna and Dianne were born there shortly before Sawyer completed his Civil Engineering degree.
Sawyer worked in government or government contractor jobs in Rolla Missouri, Durango Colorado, Amarillo Texas (where David was born), and Las Vegas Nevada (where Robert was born). Ready to live closer to home, in 1953 he secured a job at the Texas Highway Department District 19 in Atlanta Texas where he worked for 35 years.
Sawyer was always eager to adopt new technology for the efficiencies it offered. He started with a slide rule, moved to a calculator, learned to program calculators, bought one of the first micro-computers where his programs were stored on cassette tapes, and owned PCs into the internet age. He was an avid investor who believed in diversity, continuous investing, and low costs – therefore a fan of dividend reinvestment plans and noload mutual funds. He was a founding member of two investment clubs, shunned commodity speculation, and put his beliefs in action by creating college savings funds for most grandchildren.
Sawyer and Beckie were active members of the First United Methodist Church, scout leaders (boy and girl), and all-around outdoor enthusiasts who enjoyed hiking and camping. In retirement they became square dancers and joined the Arkansas Camper Dancers participating in monthly camp outs and dances in and around Arkansas, enjoyed board games on Tuesdays at Red Hill, and were leaders in the local Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Sawyer was a committed family genealogist and researcher, and active member of the Cass County Genealogical Society, Throughout their retirement they were both active and involved with their children and many grandchildren. Sawyer’s passing is an end to an era and a heartfelt loss to his extended family and friends.
Visitation will be at 10:00am Monday, November 27, 2023 at Atlanta Methodist Church, followed by a funeral service at 11:00am. Interment will be at the Wimberly Cemetery in Ringgold, Louisiana at approximately 3:00pm the same day. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to Atlanta Methodist Church, 701 Lindsey Ln, Atlanta, Texas 75551.