Wayne County lost a leader on Friday, March 8 with the death of former County Judge-Executive Bruce Ramsey. Ramsey died at his home at the age of 59.
For several decades, Ramsey has been a political leader in the community and was head of county government for eight years. He was well-known by the people of this county, with a trademark smile and a wave to everyone who passed by.
In a story published in The Outlook in February 1999, as Ramsey began his first term as County Judge-Executive, he noted the special quality he saw in the people of this community.
Ramsey talked about the experience of campaigning around the county, standing on people's front porches and learning about their concerns first hand. To him, there was no better preparation for serving the people of the county.
"You should leave things better than you found them," stated Ramsey during that interview.
Ramsey was elected County Judge-Executive on his second run for that office. In his first race for County Judge-Executive, he was narrowly defeated in the republican primary by long-time County Judge- Executive Hallice Upchurch.
Ramsey, a former Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy, had worked in several business endeavors over the years, including the construction and carpet business prior to being elected County Judge-Executive.
He first entered the political arena in 1977 with an unsuccessful bid for District Four Magistrate. Several years later he ran for Wayne Circuit Clerk and was again defeated by an incumbent.
Ramsey will be remembered for his dedication to making Wayne County a better place for the future.
"He was a good judge and he was a good man to work with," said former District Two Magistrate Jesse Jones, who served on the fiscal court with Ramsey. "I thought a whole lot of him. He did a lot for Wayne County...He always had Wayne County at heart."
His leadership will be something that the county will remember for many years, noted former District One Magistrate Jerry Sloan.
"Bruce will go down as one of the better judges this county has had," said Sloan. "He was a great leader and he looked to the future...He looked ahead to see what would be good for the younger generation."
"He was a great leader and he got things done," said Sloan. "He set a goal and then he set out to accomplish that goal."
Former District Four Magistrate Wade Upchurch admired Ramsey's vision for the county, and the two were proponents of a fiber project for the local cable system.
"Bruce was a visionary leader and he wanted to change the way of life for the people of Wayne County," said Upchurch. "His support for the fiber program was a prime example. Too bad were not able to implement the infrastructure the way we planned, it would have greatly impacted the future of our county."
"We didn't always agree on everything, but that is not unusual,"
Upchurch added. "Bruce loved and cared about his county and family."
All Wayne County government offices and departments closed Monday for Ramsey's funeral. All flags at county buildings were lowered to half-mast in honor of Ramsey.
"It was very sad to hear about the passing of Judge Ramsey. He served the people of Wayne County for two terms as Judge-Executive and helped bring many improvements to our community," stated Wayne County Judge-Executive Greg Rankin. "One of the things he was most proud of was helping to create the Wayne County EMS that has become a great asset for our county and saved many lives. Bruce will be truly missed by many people across this county. "
Ramsey is survived by his wife, Winna, his son, Rhett, and his daughters, Beverly, Brenda and Belinda. Services were held on Monday, March 11 at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
See complete obituary information in this week's edition of The Outlook.