Louis Ramsay Jr. Dead at 85

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Jan. 5, 2004 1:52 pm  

Louis Ramsay Jr., the Pine Bluff lawyer and banker who was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2003, died Sunday. He was 85.

"Our state has lost a tremendous leader," said J. Thomas May, chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff.

A funeral service has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, with burial to follow at Graceland Cemetery in Pine Bluff. Arrangements are being handled by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Directors.

He is survived by his wife, Joy Bond Ramsay; a daughter, Joy Blankenship of Pine Bluff; a son, Rick Ramsay of Little Rock; a sister, Francis Holcombe of Texarkana; and seven grandchildren.

Ramsay, a Fordyce native and the only person to serve as president of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the Arkansas Bankers Association, had been associated with Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff for 52 years, first as a director, then as president, CEO and chairman. He continued to serve as chairman of the executive committee of Simmons First National Corp. until his death.

He was also of counsel with the Pine Bluff law firm of Ramsay Bridgforth Harrelson & Starling, which he had joined in 1947 when it was headed by William Coleman and Nicholas Gantt.

He had also served as chairman of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and of the University of Arkansas board of trustees and the University of Arkansas Foundation. In October, an auditorium at the Walton College of Business was named in honor of Louis and Joy Ramsay.

"He loved his church, his family, Arkansas, Pine Bluff and his beloved Razorbacks," said May, who had known Ramsay for 27 years. "He certainly will be remembered for his leadership in the legal profession, banking industry and higher education.

"Likewise, to many he will be remembered for his compassion for others. He never met a stranger and he always would spend time listening to anyone about their challenges or accomplishments. Mr. Ramsay always found a way to help others come up with the right decision when their challenges were greatest, and he found a way to share the enthusiasm when other found success."

May said Ramsay coined the motto, "We don't do extraordinary things; we simply do ordinary things extraordinarily well." And that fit Ramsay himself, May said.

"Mr. Ramsay was an ordinary man that spent a lifetime doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, and we are the beneficiaries of his work," May said.

"If I could take one person and say this is who I would like my children to be like, it would be Mr. Ramsay," he said.

Last year, Ramsay was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame by the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business, along with Richard E. Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart; David D. Glass, chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville; and the late Robert D. Nabholz Sr., founder of Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway.

In an interview with Arkansas Business in January 2003, he spoke of his love for Arkansas and his optimism about the state's future.

"I love this state," he said. "I believe it's poised to overcome some of its past.

"I'm always disappointed when I see things that set us back. I remember back to Bob Burns and Lum and Abner." The state was ridiculed and "we didn't deserve that," he said.

"But it's now poised — if we take advantage of the opportunities — to get a better reputation. I look at the growth in northwest Arkansas. I see the expansion at Wal-Mart and the trucking industry in the state, at businesses like Stephens and Dillard's, and I see the state doing much better."

The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame video about the life of Louis Ramsay can be viewed online. Click here to read his profile.



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