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Ronald Wayne Childers, Jr.

Staff Writer
The Star

Ronald Wayne Childers Jr., beloved father, grandfather, brother and uncle, passed away on Monday, June 29, 2020 at the age of 75.

He was a longtime resident of Port St. Joe, with a current residence in Chipley, and a devoted proponent of the Panhandle and its rich natural and local history.

Born to Myrtle Whittaker Childers and Ronald Wayne Childers Sr., Wayne, as he was commonly known, graduated from Port St. Joe High school, and then went on to serve in the U. S Air Force during Vietnam. After his honorable discharge, he earned degrees in psychology, anthropology and a juris doctorate of law due to his studies at various institutions, including Florida State University, Mississippi State University and Oxford College in England.

Wayne’s professional career spanned multiple disciplines but was united by a strong desire to serve others and better the world around them. His tenure of professional employment included children’s mental disabilities psychologist for the state of Florida, Port St Joe public defender, faculty/educator at Gulf Coast Community College and Florida State University, historian, and environmental advocate.

He was a member of the local historical society and a devotee of Florida history, especially in the Panhandle. He spent much time researching Spanish colonial Florida, which included travel to the Mexican National Archives in Mexico City, where he identified and translated early historical documents of the Florida Spanish colonial period to English. Under his direction, multiple archaeological sites located near Port St. Joe that dated from this period were preserved from development, including important gravesites, which are still under professional study. His interest in preserving Florida history also dovetailed into his extreme dedication for environmental conservationism, which led him to spearhead an effort to protect several wildlife areas within St Joe as protected parkland. The fruit of these efforts include Salinas Park and the Beacon Hill Lighthouse.

He was also an aspiring naturalist and student of natural means of agricultural production. While in Mexico, he further supported his historical research efforts by running a banana plantation, where he learned Old World techniques of cultivation he brought back to Florida for use in his own garden.

He also spent time in Romania, where he ran a small-scale agricultural farm. Upon again returning to the states, he bought a small acreage where he was growing cold-hardy, heirloom varietals of Florida citrus in his retirement.

Wayne’s entire life was dedicated to serving others through advice and advocacy as legal counsel, teacher, parent (or parent stand-in), guardian and friend. He strove to preserve the history and local environment of the community he lived in and loved.

He is survived by his daughter Caroline, granddaughters Genevieve and Isabelle, sister, Rebecca, nephews Sarkis and Tamer, grandnephews and nieces, Isabella, Elise, Chase and George. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, July 11 at Holly Hill Cemetery at 10 a.m.. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Port St. Joe Public Library.