It is with great sadness that SGA announces the death of Robert Jerald Ledbetter, 70, on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, Georgia after a brief illness. Jerald was born October 15, 1947 in Livingston, Tennessee, to the late Robert Howard Ledbetter and Edith Alene (née Davis). The family moved to Jackson, Tennessee shortly thereafter and Jerald spent the remainder of his youth there.

Jerald received a B.S. in Biology from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and maintained a lifelong love of the natural world, especially of birds. He spent his professional working life as an archaeologist, learning field techniques in Tennessee, and eventually moving to Georgia in 1977 as an archaeologist for the University of Georgia. After gaining a wide variety of professional experiences, including in Oaxaca, Mexico, he joined Athens-based archaeological firm Southeastern Archeological Services in 1983, where he directed projects and authored reports until his death.

Jerald was known for his pioneering work using a backhoe for archaeological survey and his professional dedication to the study of Paleoindian and Archaic time periods. Foremost among his remembered talents was his patience for mentoring and encouraging young archaeologists. He was a quiet, gentle person who gave freely of his time and knowledge to help others. He was professionally well-respected and personally a pleasure to know and interact with.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Billy Joe Ledbetter. He is survived by cousins Nancy Taylor, Bob Brown, Mary Garrett, and Carrie Smalley. Jerald also leaves behind a large, somewhat unconventional “family” of close friends and colleagues who will miss him dearly.

A memorial service will be held in the Athens area later in the summer or early fall. He will return to Jackson, Tennessee, for interment at Ridgecrest Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made in his honor to the Society for Georgia Archaeology.

Posted online on Friday, May 25th, 2018

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