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Sociologist Ronald Wimberley, CALS faculty member for 40 years, dies

Dr. Ronald C. Wimberley, William Neal Reynolds professor of sociology and a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty for 40 years, died Tuesday, July 26. He was 68.

Wimberley was well known for research that described sociological factors that impact living conditions in the 11-state rural Black Belt South. However, his work related to the Black Belt went beyond research and included outreach efforts aimed at addressing the social and economic problems of the region.

His research also focused on religious commitment, civil religion and political behavior and on an official government definition of farms that helps assure government services to diverse types of farms, including those operated by minorities. He also studied post-Soviet change in Russian communities and led a U.S. and Russian team that advised on the privatization of Russian communities and farms.

In early April, Wimberley was named the 2011-2012 winner of the Southern Sociological Society’s Roll of Honor Award, the highest recognition given by the society. The society’s 2012 annual meeting will feature several sessions on Wimberley’s work.

He was also named the 2010 Distinguished Rural Sociologist by the Rural Sociological Society. He received the society’s highest recognition last August.

Wimberley joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty in 1971 as an instructor. He was named assistant professor the next year, at the same time he earned a doctorate from the University of Tennessee. He served as head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1981 to 1985 and was named a William Neal Reynolds professor in 1996.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 30 at New Chapel Hill Baptist Church in West Monroe, Louisiana, followed by burial in the church cemetery. A memorial service, which has not yet been scheduled, will be held later in Raleigh at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, the American Cancer Society, the endowment fund for the N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences or the enhancement fund for the N.C. State Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Written by Dave Caldwell, 919.513,3127 or