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Joseph Edmond Mayes, Jr.

Obituary Date: Thursday 20th September 2012
Joseph Edmond Mayes, Jr., age 88, of Cumming, Georgia, formerly of Atlanta, died on Thursday, September 20, 2012. He was preceded in death in 2007 by his wife of 58 years, Virginia Osborn Mayes.

Joe was born on August 12, 1924 at his childhood home at 1667 Carroll Drive in Hills Park, a railroad community in northwest Atlanta. He was the son of Joseph E. Mayes, Sr. and Roberta Cardell Mayes. He became a member of Hills Park Baptist Church, chartered by his parents and other community members, where he later served as a Deacon and Trustee. He and Virginia continued to worship there after retirement to Cumming in the 1980s. The well-being of the church was important to him throughout his life.

He attended Mount Vernon Grammar School, graduated from Fulton High School in 1941, and Georgia Institute of Technology in 1947. Joe's interest in engineering was kindled at age 12 when he built a radio and then did radio repairs in his community. He completed two years at Georgia Tech before he was called to serve in World War II. He joined the Army Air Corps, where he became a navigator on a B-24 Liberator flying missions over north Africa, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia, where his plane was shot down. After returning home safely as a Second Lieutenant, Joe returned to Georgia Tech where he completed his B.S. in electrical engineering. He remained an ardent supporter of Georgia Tech for the rest of his life.

In 1948, he married Virginia Osborn, a friend his sister brought home to visit from Georgia State College for Women. He and Virginia, and eventually their first daughter Cathie, lived in Smyrna for a few years before moving to their new home at 1397 Carroll Drive which Joe designed, built, and wired himself.

He began work at Southern Engineering Company in 1948, where he was design engineer. He eventually became Vice President, Executive Vice President, Treasurer, President, and Chief Executive Officer before retiring in 1985 as Chairman of the Board. Southern Engineering's clients included rural electric association cooperatives. Joe was proud of his work designing systems to bring electricity to many rural communities for the first time. At the end of his career, Joe was licensed as a Professional Engineer in 31 states. Interesting highlights of his career included visiting China twice in the 1980s with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's delegation of engineers (hosted by People-to-People), designing systems for electrical delivery in permafrost conditions in Alaska, specifying the requirements to deliver electricity to Georgia's Sea Islands, and developing the design standards for electrical systems in Venezuela. Joe was inducted into the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame in 2000. Following his retirement, he enjoyed woodworking, gardening, and travel with Virginia, their friends Jack and Becky Slover, and family in North America, Europe, Australia, and Central and South America.

Joe is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Cathie Mayes Hudson and Hugh D. Hudson, Jr. of Atlanta and Mary Mayes and Thomas R. Jordan of Athens; two grandchildren, Benjamin Mayes Jordan and Charles Lesley Jordan, and Charles' fiancé, Katherine Ann Triplett; sister Elizabeth Mayes Westbury of San Antonio, Texas; sister and brother-in-law Evangeline and Walter Matthews of Albany; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Catherine and Charlie Waters of Ellijay and Charmet and Charles Garrett of Buford; nieces Barbara Matthews, Yvette Osborn, and Cindy Brockington; and nephews John Westbury, Edmond Westbury, Michael Garrett, Mark Garrett, their families, and several cousins.

Challenged by a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in the mid-1980s, Joe faced life with a positive attitude each day, a solid faith in God, and the strong conviction that mankind would find answers to diseases such as his through science. He was always curious about the world, often taking his family to the darkest and highest hills in Atlanta with a telescope to witness cosmic events. He was an avid reader of newspapers, especially The Atlanta Constitution and The Wall Street Journal, which he read every day throughout his adult life. He enjoyed reading about a wide range of subjects that ran the gamut from archeology and astronomy to woodworking and model railroads.

Joe's last years were difficult ones, battling several additional illnesses. The family expresses their gratitude to the many caregivers who assisted Joe over the last six years, including Ida Vuletic and Dorothy Wood.

A visitation will be held on Sunday evening at McDonald and Son Funeral Home, 150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, Georgia from 4 to 6pm. The funeral will be held at 1pm on Monday at McDonald's with the Reverend Mike Sigmon officiating, followed by a reception at the funeral home and a graveside service at Crest Lawn Cemetery in Atlanta at 4pm.

Contributions may be made in Joe's memory to Hills Park Baptist Church, 1755 Annie Street, N.W., Atlanta, 30318, the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Engineering, or the charity of your choice.

Condolences may be expressed on-line at

Arrangements by McDonald and Son Funeral Home & Crematory, 150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, GA 30040 (770) 886-9899
Funeral Date
09/25/2012 at 12:00AM
Funeral Home
McDonald and Son Funeral Home & Crematory