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Death of wrestling figure, politician, professor John Raber

Dr. John Raber, former Georgia politician and professor who ran wrestling camps, served as a wrestling official, and received a lifetime service award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, died Thursday, Feb. 20. He was 81.

Dr. John Raber (Photo/Tom Reed)
Known affectionately as "Doctor John," Raber refereed at a number of NCAA wrestling championships, and was founder and president of the All-South Officials Association. He also shared his knowledge and experience at his popular Doctor John Wrestling Camps in Georgia in the 1970s and 80s. For all these contributions to wrestling, Raber was honored with the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award by the Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.

George McIntyre, long-time wrestling official who wrestled at Tennessee-Chattanooga in the 1970s, shared a number of amusing stories to InterMat about officiating with Raber ... then said, "John is the man who told a tournament director to give me an opportunity to officiate a national tournament after one year as a high school official. I looked up to him and learned so much."

Beyond wrestling, Raber was a professor at University of Northern Georgia for 23 years, served two terms as mayor of Dahlonega, Ga., and was on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners for seven years.

Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton described Raber as a "real asset for the community" who would be missed, telling the Gainesville Times, "He was a public servant and made a huge impact in his many years of tenure."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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