Ramsey’s death shocks former teammate, friend
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Former Olympian Rey Robinson had a strange feeling when his friend Joe Ramsey took more than a day to respond to his call. Usually, Ramsey would respond within hours.
When Robinson’s phone did ring, it wasn’t with good news he received from Ramsey’s brother. The news confirmed Robinson’s greatest fear when the voice on the other end told him Ramsey had been found dead in his house hours earlier.
Ramsey, a former track and field standout at FAMU, was chairman of his alma mater’s Sports Hall of Fame. He held several administrative positions at FAMU, including being interim athletic director.
Ramsey, who was 65, also served briefly as head coach of FAMU’s women’s track team.
Robinson and Ramsey forged a friendship that started in the 1960s after meeting at a high school track meet. Robinson was a spectator when he saw Ramsey winning a 100-meter race. “I asked what’s his secret,” Robinson said. “He said there is no secret. You just pick them up and put them down. I never thought I would be on a track team with him.”
Ramsey eventually became Robinson’s mentor when he joined the team after one season of running in high school. He credits Ramsey for a lot of his success, including helping to prepare him for the 1972 Olympics.
“He was always making sure I had myself together,” Robinson said. “He didn’t let me slack up at all.”
Details of Ramsey’s funeral were still being planned as of this past Monday.
Cause of death also remains unknown, but no foul play was suspected.
“It’s still a mystery until we find out more information from doctors,” said Vaughn Wilson, FAMU’s sports information director. “He was not known to be sick. He was always a picture of health; one of the reasons it was so shocking to a lot of people. He worked out daily.”
Eddie Jackson, a member of the HOF committee who also heads up the 220 Quarterback Club, said Ramsey was tireless in his work with the committee.
“It’s a great loss. He served in so many ways; too many to count. He was a Rattler through and through. He is going to be missed greatly. It’s a significant loss and he is going to be missed a great deal.
“It’s so hard to conceive that someone so full of life is gone quickly.”
In addition to being the driving force behind the HOF, Ramsey started a fund-raising initiative two years ago through a reunion of past track teams. The event raised $22,000 in its two years, said Wilson.
Ramsey had just attended a HOF planning meeting the week before his death, said Wilson, who was inducted last year.
“He ran that flawlessly for years,” Wilson said. “It was top-class from the first time he contacted me about the FAMU Hall of Fame. From that aspect, he will be sorely missed.”