Robert Davidson

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Longtime William Carey Leader Dies

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) – J. Ralph Noonkester, who served as president of William Carey College for 33 years, has died at the age of 88.

Officials with Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home in Hattiesburg say Noonkester died early Monday after a brief illness. The cause of death was not released.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Main Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.

When Noonkester became president at age 32, William Carey’s enrollment stood at 400 students.

By the time he retired, it was 1,700 students. During his tenure as president, Noonkester oversaw the school’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as the establishment of campuses in Gulfport and New Orleans.

Survivors include his wife, Naomi; three sisters; a son and a daughter; and three grandchildren.