Funeral set Thursday for former Hamilton Co. Mayor Claude Ramsey
Claude Ramsey is being remembered as a public servant who worked to give Tennessee Valley residents better places to work and to play. Ramsey died Monday morning at the age of 75.
For more than 40 years, Ramsey served Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee before retiring from the deputy governor position in 2013.
READ MORE | WRCB's David Carroll's tribute to Claude Ramsey
Friends are calling him an iconic figure, who not only contributed to Hamilton County's success but the entire state of Tennessee. “The footprint Claude Ramsey left on this county is tremendous,” said current Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.
Claude Ramsey won the Tennessee Valley's vote and trust. In more than 40 years of public service, the native Hamilton County strawberry farmer, never lost an election. “He was a great leader for our community. Everywhere you look around this county you can see something Claude Ramsey was involved in,” said Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander.
Ramsey was elected five times as county mayor, four times as assessor of property, twice to the Tennessee General Assembly and once as county commissioner. Before retiring as deputy governor. “Claude really exemplified what public service was about. He was a fair person, a man of integrity. Served his entire political career without any controversy,” said Coppinger.
Ramsey was the mastermind behind some iconic projects that changed the Tennessee Valley. He helped create the Tennessee River Park, and worked hard to ensure Volkswagen would build a plant in Chattanooga. “I remember one particular day Claude called and said the folks from Germany are coming back in a few weeks and we need to have that placed cleaned up. Pretty much if you owned a bulldozer or chainsaw in Hamilton County, we put you to work,” said Hullander.
But behind the suit and the politics, Ramsey always put family and friends first. “He was a very humble man who would listen to folks.” And those friends credit him for making the Tennessee Valley a better place to live. “What Chattanooga is now is very much a lot of what our community is because of Claude Ramsey.”
“Claude Ramsey was the integral part of all the pieces over the decades that he served here in Hamilton County that kept the economy going as well as businesses and recruitment.”
Ramsey's funeral will be held Thursday at 2:00 pm at Bayside Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 4:00 pm-8:00 pm on Wednesday, June 20 at Heritage Funeral Home on East Brainerd Road. They will also receive friends prior to the service from 12:00-2:00 pm on Thursday.
PREVIOUS STORY: Claude Ramsey, who served as Hamilton County Mayor and Deputy Governor for Gov. Bill Halsam, has died at the age of 75.
Ramsey played a major role in bringing Volkswagen to Chattanooga in 2008 and developing the Tennessee Riverpark.
After his time serving as county mayor, Ramsey became Deputy Governor to Haslam.
Former Chattanooga Mayor, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, released a statement Monday morning, which reads:
“Dedicated, prudent, humble, and wise. These are the leadership qualities with which Claude Ramsey led our county,” said Corker. “When I was elected mayor of Chattanooga, I had the privilege of becoming his partner, particularly as it related to economic development. During that time, I especially loved our early morning phone calls to discuss how to execute our community’s shared vision. I spoke with him again by phone last Thursday and shared with him not only what an honor it was to work with him over the years but also how grateful I have been to call him a true friend. My heart goes out to Jan and the entire Ramsey family during this difficult time.”
Gov. Bill Haslam: “Tennessee has lost one of its finest statesmen and Crissy and I have lost someone that we loved and admired. Claude loved Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee and his service was always marked by a strong desire to do the right thing. He was also one of the most enjoyable people to work with that I have ever known. Crissy and I send our love and sympathy to Jan and his family.”
Volkswagen Chattanooga expressed their condolences: "We were saddened to learn of the loss of our friend Claude Ramsey.
Claude was one of our first friends in Tennessee. He was instrumental in bringing Volkswagen to Chattanooga and we considered him to be a part of our team.
On behalf of the Volkswagen Chattanooga family, we’d like extend our sincere condolences to the Ramsey family during this difficult time."
Current Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger described Ramsey as "a dedicated public servant" who "had the best interests of the people of this community in his heart."
Coppinger also said "Claude worked tirelessly to improve education and was at the forefront of making Hamilton County a manufacturing center again.
We will miss his wisdom, insight, kindness, humor and most of all friendship.
My thoughts and prayers are with Jan, his children and their grandchildren."
Here is a statement from former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who worked very closely with Claude Ramsey for many years: “Claude Ramsey was my friend an co-worker in government for decades. When opportunity knocked for significant economic gains during our respective terms as mayors, I could not have asked for a better partner. With the support of long-term staff at the city and county, we were able to work together seamlessly. He was a man of true integrity and reliability, a great traveling companion, and keeper of a rare wit and wisdom. I shall miss him like a member of my own family.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.