Longtime state senator W.L. Rayborn dies

Published 8:45 pm Monday, April 8, 2019

W.L. Rayborn, a longtime Lincoln County senator, died Friday at the age of 83.

Rayborn served as District 39 senator for two decades.

In a letter to the editor in 2015, Rayborn listed several projects that Democrats helped bring to the area while he was in office: four-laning of Hwy. 84, a new Highway Patrol building, a juvenile rehabilitation center, industrial park overpass, Mississippi School of the Arts, state veterans homes and the Lincoln Civic Center, among others.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Rayborn called Brookhaven the “next crossroads of the South.”

He lost to then-newcomer Cindy Hyde-Smith in the 1999 primary and unsuccessfully challenged her again in 2003. Rayborn, a Democrat, ran for the seat again in 2011 and lost to current senator Sally Doty, a Republican.

“I can now join the Former Senator Party,” Rayborn said after losing to Hyde-Smith in 1999. “When folks get ready to turn you out, that’s what they do. But I’m tickled to death they elected me to serve.”

“When I was first elected in 2012, Senator Rayborn was very gracious and gave me good advice on redistricting and a couple other issues unique to Southwest Mississippi,” Doty said. “We would often talk on the phone about various issues, and I will miss his input.”

Former longtime state representative Bobby Moak, now chairman of the state Democratic Party, said Rayborn did all he could to help Southwest Mississippi and Lincoln County.

“You have to look no further than his efforts in getting the school of the arts off the ground in Brookhaven,” Moak said. “Whether it was highways or any other public venue for the area, W.L. was in the mix at the Capitol.”

Rayborn, known by many as “Dub”, was a Mason and a member of the Moose Lodge, according to his obituary. He loved to hunt and fish as well as make dentures. He was a member of Easthaven Baptist Church.

He is survived by a son, John William Rayborn; daughters, Cathy Phillips, Judy French and Debi Hambright; and a brother, Stanley Rayborn. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.