John Earl Raber, a former Lumpkin County chairman, Dahlonega mayor and University of North Georgia faculty member, died Thursday, Feb. 20.
He was known as “Dr. John” in Lumpkin, and in addition to his local government roles and teaching, he officiated NCAA wrestling championships, ran a wrestling camp and received a lifetime service award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lumpkin County Manager Stan Kelley said Raber’s dedication to public service showed in his relationships with others.
“He was quite a dynamic fellow. He would impact people even if it was just a casual conversation,” Kelley said.
Raber was passionate about beautifying the community, Kelley said, and personally bought wildflowers to fill the medians on Ga. 400 in Lumpkin. He also looked out for those in need and inspired the best in others, Kelley said.
“When he would come into the office or when we were working together, he had such a personality that you were attracted to him and wanted to work with him on projects and see them succeed,” Kelley said.
Raber worked at UNG for 23 years, served two terms as Dahlonega mayor and was on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners for seven years.
He was known for his email newsletters, which would inform people not only about local government but about the accomplishments of local sports teams or businesses. Sharing the good news was one-way Raber gave back, Kelley said.
“He would just always uplift people,” Kelley said. “When they did something special, he would always make it a point to recognize them for their achievement.”
Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard posted a video on social media remembering Raber’s kindness toward him and the community.
“When I was going through cancer, he was very helpful to me,” Jarrard said. “He would call me daily and check on me, and he would post updates on my health as I was going through cancer. He was encouraging to me along the way.”
Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton said Raber was a “real asset for the community” who would be missed.
“He was a public servant and made a huge impact in his many years of tenure,” Norton said.
Anderson-Underwood Funeral Home of Dahlonega is handling arrangements, but service details had not been announced as of Friday afternoon.