JARS v59n2 - In Memoriam: James Ramsey

In Memoriam: James Ramsey
Bill Stipe

Jim Ramsey, who died Jan. 17, 2005, was born in 1924 and raised in Yakima, Washington. He served in the Army in the South Pacific during WWII. He graduated from the University of Washington in metallurgical engineering and worked for the Boeing Company for thirty-five years.

Jim married Suzanne in 1948 and lived in Bellevue, Washington, with their three daughters until 1978 when they moved to Whidbey Island, Washington. Jim retired from Boeing in 1987. They built a new house and garden on Eagle Buff Road and started collecting rhododendrons. He was instrumental in starting the Whidbey Island Chapter of ARS, and served as president, board member, plant sale chairman, and he was a mentor to every new member. He served as the ARS District 2 Director and was awarded the Bronze Medal.

I first met Jim at Boeing when we bowled in a company-sponsored league for which he was the secretary. We also had another common interest, rhododendrons. Jim started planting rhododendrons in every available spot in his Whidbey Island garden. His interest was in both species and hybrids, and particularly Frank Fujioka’s hybrids.

Jim was a regular at all the ARS conventions and made many rhodie friends across the US. During his tenure as District 2 Director, he regularly visited all of the District 2 chapters. He was a regular volunteer at Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, and sponsored a rock garden that bears his name.

Jim was a great communicator and kept in touch with his many friends, calling many on a regular basis. Whenever we got together, which was almost daily, our discussions centered around two things: rhododendrons and tractors.

I am proud to say he was my friend.