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Ruby O'Berry Wilson, member of a prominent pioneer family

Ruby O'Berry Wilson, a member of one of Pinellas County's earliest prominent families, died Monday (June 14, 1993) at Woodland's Nursing Center, Rutherfordton, N.C. She was 90.

A resident of the nursing center for about six months, she died after suffering a stroke, her daughter, Wanda Badger, said Tuesday.

Mrs. Wilson, a St. Petersburg native, had been living since 1981 in the 125-year-old home of her late husband's family in Rutherford County between Rutherfordton and Forest City in western North Carolina.

For many years she spent summers at the North Carolina home. After the death of a son, Wayne, in 1981, she stopped returning to Pinellas County, her daughter said.

For 35 years she worked during the winter seasons as a retail saleswoman at the Milne O'Berry citrus packing plant, established in Seminole by one of her brothers, Warren Holman O'Berry, and once co-owned by her husband, James B. Wilson.

She was one of eight children whom pioneer citrus grower John Jordan O'Berry and his wife, Emma, brought here in 1900 from Blanton, a Pasco County town founded by her mother's father.

Seeking a warmer climate after the big freeze of 1899, O'Berry uprooted his family from their 66 acres in Blanton and 40 acres in Hernando County, loaded their possessions in wagons and on horses and set out on a 75-mile trek through mostly wild land to a new life on what is now 54th Avenue N in St. Petersburg.

With Mrs. Wilson's seven brothers and sisters came two cows, three horses and a rosebush that her mother dug up to transplant to her new home _ and which a horse ate on the trip.

Her mother had opposed the move, and her father promised to return to Pasco County in a year if she didn't like St. Petersburg.

They stayed, and made their mark.

Land once owned by the O'Berrys is scattered throughout Pinellas County. The 54th Avenue Elementary School, now used for Northeast High School classes, is on what once was part of the O'Berry homestead. Mrs. Wilson's father worked an orange grove on land adjoining the school property until his death in 1942. Her mother died in 1927.

The former Ruby O'Berry and her twin sister, Ruth, were married at a double ceremony at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater in December 1922. Mrs. Wilson's husband died in 1954. Her sister's husband, William Olds, died about 20 years ago.

In Forest City, Mrs. Wilson was a member of Forest City Senior Citizens Club, Mount Vernon Homemaker's Club and Mount Vernon Baptist Church.

Survivors include her daughter, Wanda Wilson Badger, and sister, Ruth O'Berry Olds, both of St. Petersburg; two grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Friends may call Friday from 10 a.m. until the beginning of a service at 11 a.m. in the chapel of Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 2201 Dr. M. L. King (Ninth) St. N. Dr. James F. Graves will officiate. Burial will be at Sunnyside Cemetery.

The family suggested memorial contributions to Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Route 2, Box 688, Forest City, N.C. 28043.

_ Information from stories by Susan Denley in the St. Petersburg Times was used in this obituary.

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