DICK BAYNTON: Angels Among Us

Dick Baynton

Occasionally, this column features the biography of what might be considered a charismatic person.  This week, it’s a married couple. She is Carole and he is Ray and their storybook lives could be a best-selling book of a hundred chapters or a TV true story weekly series that would stretch for several years.

In a world of terror, conflict, destruction and cries of desperation, Carole Mayberry, PhD and Alton Ray Mayberry, MD are living a joyous life of glowing memories of past exploits and achievements. This unassuming couple is the epitome of success, enrichment and service beyond the prosaic lives most of us find rewarding.

Ray was born and raised in the self-rule city of Uniontown, KY located in Union County on the banks of the Ohio River. The population of Uniontown is a little over 1,000 and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city is home to about the same number of folks that lived there in 1860, 157 years ago.

The Mayberry family had five children; Ray was in the middle of the pack. At age 17 he enlisted in the Army and his duty station for three years was Alaska. Upon returning home, he entered the University of Kentucky, receiving his BS under the auspices of the GI Bill. Planning a career in medicine, he promptly entered the University of Louisville and earned an MD in 1956. Ray interned and served as a ‘General Practitioner’ in Evansville, IN until 1961.

Carole was born in Rocky Mount, VA and attended local schools. She started taking piano lessons at age eight and became accomplished enough to play in church where she also sang in the choir. Carole earned a PhD in clinical psychology at UNC and was appointed a research associate at the UNC medical school.

Following her research and studies in Chapel Hill, she traveled to Nashville and interned in Clinical Psychology at Vanderbilt University where she and Ray met. The next move was to Knoxville, TN where Ray was the Director of a Psychiatric Hospital. Studying and teaching at UNC medical school for five years, Ray had received accreditation by the American Board of Psychiatry in 1971.

The beginning of this loving partnership was sealed in Marriage in Knoxville in 1978; Ray and Carole apparently inspired each other to accomplish great things. Ray says he wanted to see what was going on in the world and you’ve got to go there to find out. While in the Knoxville area, they lived in Maryville, a 30 minute drive south of the city. Joining the local United Methodist Church, they started participating in mission trips.

In the early 1980’s they were invited to Australia by Dr. Gloster Udy, a church minister to help train mental health workers in a government program named ‘Lifeline Ministries.’ This was mainly a telephone program aimed at counseling callers who were depressed, lonely and sometimes suicidal. In helping with this mission, they traveled extensively in Sydney and the surrounding areas to assist in this often life-saving effort.

Using sabbatical time, both Carole and Ray enrolled in religious studies at Emory University in Atlanta. These year-long studies about ‘Faith Development’ were aimed at the blending of sensitive medical care and religious faith to engender gentle and persistent healing. Because Carole’s parents in Rocky Mount needed attention by their loving daughter, the couple moved to Roanoke on November 30th, 1985, just weeks after the severe flood that inundated streets, homes, factories and warehouses.

Since their move to Roanoke, they have participated in Kairos Prison Ministries and at many agencies including Carilion, ‘Sister Cities’, ‘Friendship Force’ and the Rescue Mission. Individually or jointly they have traveled to Belgium, Bolivia, England, Ghana, Grenada, Haiti, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and Ukraine.

In India Ray met with the immortal Saint Mother Teresa who was disinclined to speak about herself or her work. In Ghana they helped expedite production of teak furniture and lobster exports to enhance income for Ghanaian workers. While in Ukraine in the early 90’s Ray met with victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Both Ray and Carole have shared their knowledge with medical students, patients and physicians throughout the world. They have spread good medicine, faith in God and elevated the spirits of the multitudes. They are indeed Angels among Us.

Dick Baynton