Archive for May, 2013


Founding member and past club president “Pony” Maples passes.

May 15, 2013
Original notice here
Pony in his museum

Pony in his museum

Elbert “Pony” Rayburn Maples, Jr.
(March 29, 1933 – April 30, 2013)

On April 30, 2013, Elbert Rayburn “Pony” Maples Jr. left Nashville to go to his Eternal Home in Heaven.

Preceded in death by his wife Kathryn Barth Horton.

Pony is survived by his 3 daughters, Beverly Gale Powell (Ryan) & son Ryan Jr. of Virginia Beach,VA.; Dana Maples deTar (Steve) and 5 sons Hunter, Hilton, Jordan, Weston & Reilly of Traverse City, MI.; Constance Maples Ovesen (Todd) and children Dalton & Mackenzie of Oxford, MI. Stepchildren include, William Horton (Shelley) and daughters Corbin & Katelyn of College Grove, TN, and Lydia Horton of Nashville, TN, as well as his beloved friend & caregiver, Peggy Burch of Spring Hill, TN.

Born in LaFayette, Georgia on March 29, 1933 Pony was the son of Elbert Rayburn Sr. & Sybil Serena Faulkner Maples Haddock a school teacher & powerful encourager in his life. Pony spent his youth in Fernandina Beach, Florida, where his father owned and operated the local newspaper. Pony’s father fostered a love of photography & benevolence in his son that continued until his death.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you” ~Shannon Alder. These were words Pony innately lived by. Growing up during WWII, Pony spent much of his youth exploring Amelia Island, Florida. Pony was a creative adventurer with a keen engineering ability. Whether designing a slide wire connecting his upstairs window to the porch of his neighbor or capturing and releasing an alligator in the school hallway to the shouts & screams of his fellow students, one thing was certain, Pony created indelible memories!

Pony spent countless hours during his youth at his beloved Fort Clinch, playing with the huge cannons inside the walled fort at the mouth of the St. Mary’s river. Here, he imagining encounters with the enemy, using binoculars to scout and identify planes flying overhead or searching for submarines surfacing near the Florida coastline. His love of all things WWII, Patriotism & airplanes led Pony to collect many WWII Surplus items. In his teens, Pony purchased his first airplane from a newspaper ad, learning to fly it on the way home from a neighboring state. After the death of his father, Pony graduated from Fernandina High School and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His continued love of flying found Pony moving on to the U.S. Air Force in 1954, studying Electronics, Communications & Sonar. Pony finished his Air Force years flying F-84 Thunder Jets and achieving “Top Gun” status in his squadron.

After leaving the US Air Force, Pony entered the Air National Guard. Upon a friend’s invitation, Pony moved to Pasadena, CA and worked for Wernher von Braun at Jet Propulsion Laboratories. While in California, Pony also earned a certificate of arts degree in theatre & television production from the Pasadena Playhouse. There, he met and married Edith Signa Carlson, who survives, & became father to Beverly. The birth of Dana followed in 1960 & Constance in 1963.

Adventures continued as Pony moved the family to Hawaii and worked in the South Pacific at Eniwetok Atoll, tracking the first Soviet Manned Space Mission & Soviet rockets. Satellite Beach, FL was the next stop, where Pony was Launch Conductor for Apollo 7,8 & 9.

The 1970’s found Pony in Nashville, TN, working closely with Kay Horton, his future wife, a Vanderbilt University Professor & Speech Pathologist. Pony put his former training in video technology to use, becoming a pioneer in the field of video monitoring; diagnosing, instructing teachers & parents with handicapped, hearing & developmentally impaired children.

Pony’s business relationship with Kay and his years of collecting military items led to yet another business endevor. The pair started ERMCO to restore WWII military vehicles & collector weapons. That company led to the beginning of RAMO Inc. RAMO manufactured M2HB .50 Caliber Machine guns. Pony & Kay married in 1982.

Pony and Kay sold RAMO in the mid 1980s and started Military Systems Group (MSG). MSG works to fulfill military & special forces needs, like outfitting vehicles, gun boats & helicopters with gun mounts and other accessories. This was the most rewarding time in Pony’s life, because he was able to continue to serve his country, by interacting with soldiers returning from battle to learn how his designs had contributed to their safety & improve their use. Today, Kay’s children continue operating MSG and making it thrive.

In his later years, Pony was blessed to enjoy the WWII Military museum he created in his basement, which he lovingly shared with visitors. Whether it was a Boy Scout troop, a Military Veteran or the widow of a soldier killed in service, Pony placed great emphasis on connecting with each visitor in a personal way.

As the end grew near, Pony continued to display his characteristically positive, grateful & humorous attitude, which challenged others to follow his lead. It was during this time that Pony realized the fulfillment of his dream of documenting his eventful life in a biography named ”The Life and Tales of Pony Maples, Jr.” The process brought into clear focus the Abundant Blessings God had bestowed upon Pony throughout his life.

Pony was a member of the Costco Veterans Group, Music City Vintage Radio Club, WWII Historical Re-enactment Society, National Defense Industrial Association, Tennessee Military Collectors Association and a founding Member of the Re-enactment Community of St. Louis.

In Lieu of flowers, Memorial Donations may be given to Pony’s favorite charities: A Soldiers Child and Operation Stand Down Nashville

A Memorial Service will be held May 30, 2013 at the Brentwood United Methodist Church . Visitation 12-1, Service 1-2, with a Celebration of Life to follow at his Home.

A Military Graveside service will be held 10:00 June 1, 2013 at Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina Beach, FL.