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In Memoriam: George Joyner
A photo of George Joyner from the 2000 Corvus yearbook

Longtime Middle School science teacher George Joyner passed away at his home on Dec. 6 at the age of 83.

A native of North Carolina, Joyner graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and embarked on his career in science first by working in a laboratory at Aerojet General in Sacramento, California, doing research in solid rocket propellants.

When he moved back to Raleigh, he joined the Middle School faculty at Ravenscroft’s new North Raleigh campus. In summers, he directed Swannanoa 4-H Camp, becoming lifelong friends with many of his staff. 

Joyner taught at Ravenscroft from 1971 through his retirement in 2000. In recognition of the many contributions he made to the school community during his extraordinary career, the school’s Alumni Association recognized him with honorary alumni status as the first member of the Class of 1862.

Text of the Class of 1862 presentation to Joyner

Excerpts of Headmaster Jim Ledyard’s remarks at commencement exercises in 2000, when Joyner received the first honorary alumni award, shared in the Summer 2000 Ravenscroft Magazine.

Former colleagues and students have shared memories spanning the decades, remembering his warmth, humor and dedication to teaching.

Middle School science teacher Melissa Spainhour — who knew Joyner through working at the 4-H camp prior to her coming to Ravenscroft — remembers him with great fondness.

“George Joyner was a great teacher, mentor and friend and inspired me to be a better teacher,” she said. “When I was a college student and, later, a colleague, George always took the time to talk with me, listen to my struggles and impart some of his practical wisdom. He loved nature and science and instilled a love for both in me. With a fun sense of humor, George was a joy to be around and made every outing an adventure. My heart goes out to his family. He was a wonderful human being and a fabulous teacher, and we will all miss him.”

“George was so kind to everyone!” now-retired Upper School English teacher Marcia Scraper Jones recalled. “I was lucky to work with him when I first came to Ravenscroft. He made every day brighter.”

Many Ravenscroft alumni said he made a lasting impact on their lives.

“He was a great man and teacher — one of my favorites. He really fueled enjoyment in science for me,” Rusty DeMent ’90 said. “He also offered really calm stability during those crazy, early teen years. ‘Geode George,’ as we were prone to call him, because he had a geode belt buckle. He will be missed.”

“He was tough but fair and kind,” Phillip Simson ’00 remembered. “He had a serious talk with the class about the decisions we make in regard to our study habits in eighth grade and how it could carry on into Upper School and show up on a resume, which could ultimately dictate our college options. It wasn’t even particularly about science and studying for science tests but, rather, in general. I remember that conversation. That nudge came at the perfect time. I gave 100% effort after that, and it continued on through high school, college and even in my career choices today.”

“What a great teacher!” Laurie Austin Dyer ’89 said. “I remember when he took the whole eighth grade to School in the Mountains at the camp where he spent his summers. He made a difference in so many lives.”

In addition to his teaching, Joyner loved music and singing. A member of Grace Lutheran Church since 1970, he was the volunteer director of the adult choir for 36 years. He was also an outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, backpacking and sailing with friends from California and North Carolina. He grew Christmas trees as a hobby and was proud of his farm in Sparta.

Retirement in 2000 provided time to stay on Topsail Island for long stretches in the fall and host many friends and family. His warm smile, kindness and humor will be missed by the family and friends he has left behind, including his wife, Jeane; daughters, Julie (John Malone) and Katie (Jason Mawhinney); and grandchildren.

A Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration will be held at Grace Lutheran Church in Raleigh on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Transitions Hospice or the Endowment Fund at Grace Lutheran Church.

Read George Joyner’s full obituary here.

Photos showing George Joyner at different stages of career

Clockwise from top: Joyner, at left, with members of the Middle School Rocket Club in the 1973 Corvus yearbook; giving eighth-grade certificates to students in 1994; faculty photo from the 1983 Corvus.