Willis J. McCray
Willis John McCray, 88, of Waycross, died Friday morning (April 28, 2017) at the Hospice Satilla Hospice House after a short illness.
He was born in Waycross to the late William Franklin and Cora Lee Waldron McCray. He served in the Georgia National Guard. He was a truck driver for most of his life and worked for Southern Diesel in Jacksonville, Fla., for 10 years. Mr. and Mrs. McCray worked at A&M Fish Camp in Palatka, Fla., before moving home to Waycross in the early 1990’s. While living in Jacksonville, he was a member of the Jacksonville Lions Club. He was a member of Victory Drive Church of God and always enjoyed fishing and eating fresh canned tomatoes.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Annie Catherine Strickland McCray, one daughter, Bobbie Dryden, one brother, Alton Laverne McCray, one sister, Dorothy Mae Waters.
Survivors include two daughters, Barbara Ann Byrd (husband, William), of Waycross, Lisa Mathis (husband, Rodney), of Waycross; son-in-law, Lonnie Dryden, of Waycross; eight grandchildren, William John Byrd, Brian Allan Byrd, William Gage Byrd, Lonnie Benjamin Dryden (wife, Jackie), Shelly Murray (husband, Billy), Jessica LeAnne Cox (husband, Travis), Daniel Mathis and Candy Murray; 20 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; one sister, Verdie Lee Eunice, of Blackshear; and several nieces, nephews and other relatives.
A funeral will be held Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock at the Miles-Odum Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow in Greenlawn Cemetery.
The family will receive friends this evening from 6 until 8 at the funeral home.
Sympathy may be expressed at www.milesodumfuneralhome.com
Miles-Odum Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Wanda L. Vest
Wanda L. Vest, 83, of Homerville, passed away Thursday afternoon (April 27, 2017) at her residence following an extended illness.
She was born June 6, 1933, to the late Cecil and Ruby West Harvey in Fayetteville, Ark. She was a homemaker, enjoyed being wife to her husband for 62 years and a mother to her children. A servant to others as a pink lady at Clinch Memorial Hospital many years, she served in her church where she had been a member for many years, Homerville Congregational Methodist Church. Along with her parents, she was preceded in death by a sister, Sue Gremae, and a brother, Winston Harvey.
Survivors Include her husband, William C. “Bill” Vest Sr., Homerville; children and spouses, Raylene and Mike Root, Patrick, S.C., Linda and David Frogett, Fairfield, Calif., Michael and Kathy Thompson, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., William C. Vest Jr., San Antonia, Texas, Cecil L. and Gail Vest, Homerville, and Connie and Carl Shell, Homerville; a sister, Adren Caroll, Reidsville; brother, Gary Harvey, Fayetteville, Ark.; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at Homerville Congregational Methodist Church in Homerville.
The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to service. All members of the church family and staff members at Clinch Memorial Hospital are considered a special honorary escort.
The family would like to express appreciation to the staff at The Dogwood Senior Health Care in Nashville and Bethany Hospice for their care and concern for the family’s needs.
Flowers will be accepted or donations may be made to Shriners Hospital, 12502 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, Fla. 33612.
Sympathy may be expressed at www.musicfuneralservices.com
The Vest family is being cared for by the professional and caring staff of Music Funeral Services, Lakeland.

Connie C. Thomas
Connie C. Thomas, 65, died Thursday afternoon (April 27, 2017) at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside in Jacksonville, Fla.
She was a native of Jacksonville, Fla., but she lived most of her life in Ware County. She was formerly employed by Ware Magnet School Cafeteria, and she was a member of Indian Mound Baptist Church.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Lawton and Gussie Turner, her husband, Marshall Thomas Sr., and one daughter, Dustina Nicole Thomas.
Survivors include three children, Marshall Thomas Jr. (Machelle), of Yulee, Fla., Angela Vonderau (Robert), of Millwood, and James Ervin Thomas (Lynn), of Millwood; five grandchildren, Joshua Grant Thomas, Amanda Thomas, Luke Thomas, Raylan Vonderau and Robert Vonderau; four great-grandchildren, Victoria Thomas, Milo Thomas, Alannah Thomas and Alexander Thomas; one sister, Mildred Pye, of Jacksonville, Fla.; former daughter-in-law, Gail Green; and several nieces and nephews.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Indian Mound Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Indian Mound Cemetery.
The family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. Monday at the church.
Music Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at www.musicfuneralhome.com

Charlotte P. Gibbs
A crypt side service for Mrs. Charlotte P. Gibbs took place Friday morning at the Greenlawn Mausoleum with the Rev. D.L. Mercer officiating.
Arrangements were with Music Funeral Home Cemetery.

Edward ‘EJ’ Walker Jr.
Edward “EJ” Neil Walker Jr., 34, passed away Friday morning (April 21, 2017) at his residence after an extended illness.
He was married to Mercedes Walker (née Chavez) for almost three years. He was the son of Edward Walker Sr. and Sheryl Walker, of Hoboken. He was the brother of Joshua Walker (married to Natasha), uncle of Brinson, brother of Jessica Gerard (married to Jason), and uncle of Isabella, Lyla, Lucas and Aubrey. He is also survived by grandmothers, aunts, uncles and many cousins.
“EJ,” as he was lovingly known, was born Feb. 16, 1983 in Blackshear. As a rambunctious little 4-year-old boy, he would playfully set things on fire. Ironically enough as an adult he worked hard as a firefighter. Heworked as a firefighter for the City of Waycross from 2005 to 2010. He fought the Okefenokee Swamp wildfires in 2007. These were among the largest documented wildfires in the states of Georgia and Florida.
As much as he enjoyed working for his community in this capacity, he felt he could contribute so much more by his work as a teacher of the Bible. His strong faith in God and love of neighbor motivated him to share a Bible-based hope for the future that he found so comforting and encouraging. He ultimately made the decision to leave his career as a firefighter in order to become a full time minister and pursue his passion for helping others learn more about the Bible.
Something that he also thoroughly enjoyed was fishing. He found it to be relaxing, specifically by the ocean in the southeast Georgia coast. Yet, in keeping with Christ’s example more than actual fishing, he found it more important to be a “fisher of men” just as Jesus invited his disciples to do by participating in the life-saving evangelizing work. (Matthew 4:19, 20). It was evident to all those around him, that EJ’s deep love for Jehovah God and his fellow neighbors made him an effective minister.
He was always captivated by Jehovah God’s creation. Sunsets in particular were a constant reminder to him of God’s majestic gifts through nature. He would take time to reflect on his personal relationship with God while enjoying spectacular sunsets.
Another example of his love for the outdoors was his interest in animals. He would often go to the Okefenokee Swamp and from a very young age he became acquainted with local wildlife. There was a man that worked at the swamp that fondly remembers he as a child, and he admired how knowledgeable EJ was of the swamp and the animals that lived there. His genuine appreciation for nature reflected a clear understanding that only God was worthy of receiving all the glory and praise, because He had created all things. (Revelation 4:11)
On Aug. 9, 2014, he married the love of his life, Mercedes Walker. Together they dedicated two months as part of their honeymoon to participate in the preaching work on the island of Grenada. He was a loving, considerate husband and a good listener. After a stressful day at work, Mercy could count on EJ to give her a well-needed hug. He was, as Mercy describes, the “best hugger.” EJ and Mercy came to really enjoy their time together at home, eating dinner, watching movies and just relaxing. Above all, he was a spiritual man and Mercy appreciated the good spiritual family head that he was. Praying together and dedicating time for family worship was important to him. He was a genuine and honest man, and Mercy admired all of his fine qualities. “EJ made me a better person,” reflected Mercy. With this loss she feels like she was robbed of time with him.
His life was in many ways defined by his faith and relationship with Jehovah God. By sharing the good news of God’s kingdom with others, he spoke about the hope of the resurrection of life here on Earth. He wholeheartedly believed in that hope!
As he is now present in Jehovah’s infinite memory, the day will soon come when that hope he so often spoke about to others will become a reality. (John 5:28, 29). That day and hour will soon arrive when all those who loved him dearly, will once again be able to embrace him and enjoy his kindness, humility and loving nature.
There will be a funeral talk for EJ Walker at the City Auditorium, 865 Pendleton St., Waycross, on Thursday at 4 p.m.
His family, friends and fellow believers will be present in memory of him. It will be an opportunity to reflect on his life, his faith and his sincere hope for the future. All in the community are welcome to attend.