Jack Ramsey, Elizabethton businessman and civic leader dies

By Rozella Hardin
star staff
rhardin@starhq.com

   Jack Ramsey, local businessman, died Wednesday after a brief illness.
   Ramsey, who lived at 800 Fairway Dr., was former owner of Coleman's Studio and Tri-State School Pictures. A native of Coeburn, Va., he moved to Elizabethton in 1949 to join his brother-in-law, Wiley Coleman, in the photography business. He studied photography at the Southwestern Photography Arts Institute in Dallas, Texas. Ramsey and Coleman built the Elizabethton studio into a premier business and a leader in school photographs. He was owner of the studio for 32 years.
   A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Ramsey served aboard the U.S.S. Sumner. He was serving at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed the harbor. A very patriotic person, Ramsey was proud of his military record, and often told his story to civic organizations and schools. He was a gunner aboard the survey ship when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred. He fired the first volley of shots from the ship after the early morning attack, getting a direct hit at one of the attack planes. He spent the remainder of the war serving in the Pacific Theatre.
   Ramsey was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and attended the 25th Anniversary Ceremony of the Pearl Harbor Attack.
   A very civic-minded person, Ramsey was very involved in local affairs, serving as a City Councilman, a member of the Elizabethton Golf Course Board, the Planning Commission, and the Elizabethton Power Board.
   A private pilot in earlier years, he was instrumental in the development of the local municipal airport. He also was a member of the Elizabethton Golf Association, formerly serving as president.
   Ramsey was an avid golfer. He also enjoyed fishing and boating, and helped organize the first July the Fourth boat parade on the Watauga Lake.
   He was an active member of the Oak Street Baptist Church.
   "Jack embraced this community and loved it dearly," said his wife, Alice. "He enjoyed his service to the community, and he was very proud of his military record. He was very patriotic."
   Survivors include his wife, Alice Gass Ramsey, of the home; a daughter, Katheryn "Kathy" Nave of Evans, Ga.; and a grandson, Cody Nave of Boston, Mass.
   Ramsey and his wife also had cared for several children of single parents, among them Hannah and Caleb Barnett.
   Memorial Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.