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Elizabeth Ramsey, nursing administrator who helped migrant workers, dies at 89

Elizabeth M. Ramsey, a retired nursing administrator who once worked on a team that assisted Maryland’s migrant workers, died of heart disease April 20 at her Woodstock home. She was 89.

Born in Macon, Ga., she was the daughter of Otis McMullen and Alice Nelson. She lived as a child in Knoxville, Tenn., and was a 1948 graduate of Austin High School. She was known as Honey Bee within her family and earned a diploma in nursing at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

When Mrs. Ramsey was in high school, she worked as a chambermaid at a hotel. There she encountered a bellboy, Harold E. Ramsey. He took her to the senior prom and they married in 1953.

Her husband, a U.S. Public Health Service physician, was transferred around the country. The family moved six times before settling in Baltimore in 1967.

“As we moved from one city to another, my mother kept her family together,” said her son, Dr. Gregory W. Ramsey, a Morgan State University professor. “She did a very good job with this all the while she pursued her own career. She was a multifaceted person.”

In 1965 she received a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle. After moving to Baltimore and settling in Ashburton, she joined the Baltimore City Health Department and served as a public health nurse. She made home visits and assisted in neighborhood clinics. She also returned to school and earned a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing from the University of Maryland in downtown Baltimore in 1971.

In 1972 Mrs. Ramsey became director of the psychiatric day hospital with the Provident Community Mental Health Center in West Baltimore. She continued doing psychiatric nursing as a consultant for several years, and taught nursing at today’s Coppin State University and Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Mrs. Ramsey went on to become a nursing administrator with the Baltimore City public school system. She later joined the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as its chief of the migrant and refugee health program, taking her throughout the state.

“She left early in the morning and would get home until late at night,” said her husband, a retired surgeon. “She liked what she was doing and that she had something to offer.”

She retired nearly 10 years ago as a nurse consultant on an independent medical review team.

Mrs. Ramsey belonged to the Delta Sigma Theta service sorority. She also belonged to the MEDESO Wives Club and the Alpha Wives. She had been an officer in the Pierians, a women's arts group, and the Northeasterners, a women’s social organization.

After retiring from nursing, Mrs. Ramsey continued her interest in the arts. She painted in oils and became a docent at the Walters Art Museum and the Reginald Lewis Museum.

Family members said that Mrs. Ramsey enjoyed her visits to the Lifebridge Health and Fitness Center in Pikesville for water aerobic exercise and yoga. She was active as a young woman, playing tennis, swimming, dancing and traveling widely.

”She lived her life well and had the rare ability to see the best in people,” her husband said. “She also liked her work and that’s why she worked so long. She reached out to so many people in the community.”

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 12 at St. James Episcopal Church, 1020 W. Lafayette Ave. She belonged to its Saint Agnes Guild and was a lay Eucharistic minister. She also joined the church’s Stephen Ministry and trained counselors within the congregation.

In addition to her husband of 64 years and her son, survivors include a daughter, Dr. Wanda L. Ramsey of Ellicott City; and two grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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