News

Mar
30

Dr. Jerry and Elaine Ramsey: A Historical Legacy To Set The Record Straight

Filed Under: Philanthropy - Posted @ 4:23pm

Dr. Jerry and Elaine Ramsey, wearing leis, pose on a Hawaiian cruise in front of a mural painted with whales.

Dr. Jerry and Elaine Ramsey

Dr. Jerry Ramsey and his late wife, Elaine, were true lovers of Tacoma long before it became the hottest housing market in the nation. Through their work as educators and authors, they built connections to the region’s history. As engaged community membersthey also built lasting supports for generations to come. 

Formal photo of a young Elaine Ramsey

Elaine Ramsey

 “Elaine and I have never lived outside of the Tacoma area”, said Dr. Jerry. “This has been our home. We have invested all we have here – at Fort Nisqually, our educational institutions, our church First United Methodist, and many other organizations we’ve supported over the years like the Special Olympics”. 

In 2005, Elaine published a book entitled Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant by her grandfather, Mentor Josias Perdue. He preached across the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) but spent many years in Tacoma while assigned to St. Paul’s UMC. Years after his death, Elaine found his handwritten notes for an autobiography. She transcribed the notes and wrote the final chapter of the book. 

When Elaine published her book, it inspired Dr. Jerry to publish his own book, Stealing Puget Sound, about the history of our region. To this day, Dr. Jerry credits his passion for that history to a trip he took to Fort Nisqually when he was in the fourth grade. 

“The indigenous tribes of our region were independent nations from the start. In the treaties that were negotiated they remain sovereign nations, though some have unfortunately tried to change that. They should always remain independent and sovereign in my opinion.” 

“At the fort we heard one story, but my teacher said when we get back, I will tell you the real story. Well, I do not know if it was the mystery around all of it or what, but I was so intrigued and excited to learn more! I went to that teacher after school with a set of note cards. I came back many more times with more notecards. I continued that practice all the way into adulthood and those note cards became my book.” 

Dr. Jerry believes that a lot of history gets lost and twisted. What drove him as a historian was to uncover the truth, even if thtruth was not always pretty. He hopes that part of the legacy of his and Elaine’s work as historians and educators is to encourage people to “ask why” and to “do our research” – especially in a time of so much misinformation. “Too much fake news these days”, said Dr. Jerry. 

 “God blessed my wife Elaine and I with plenty – more than we needed. We wanted to pass that abundance along to others who can do some good with it.” 

Among other things, Dr. Jerry’s book compares the relationship between the indigenous people of the region and the Spanish, British, Russian, and American traders and settlers“I wanted to get the story corrected. It is the Americans who should own the ugly history of our region. Prior to them, there were Spanish, British and Russian traders who understood they were trading with a foreign nation. They got permission to do that and to be here and the relationship was mutually beneficial for a time. 

“The indigenous tribes of our region were independent nations from the start. In the treaties that were negotiated they remain sovereign nations, though some have unfortunately tried to change that. They should always remain independent and sovereign in my opinion.” 

Formal photo of Dr. Jerry Ramsey in a suit and tie

Dr. Jerry Ramsey

As part of his commitment to preserving local history, Dr. Jerry donated his copyright and earnings for Stealing Puget Sound to the DuPont Historical Society. Dr. Jerry said this, “helps me keep my book out there and not have to do any of the work and in turn it benefits the kind of work my book represents through the historical society.” In additionDr. Jerry and Elaine established a scholarship at the University of Puget Sound and three endowed funds at GTCF that will benefit Ft. Nisqually, Pierce County Friends and Athletesand the Tacoma Historical Society, forever.  

Dr. Jerry wouldn’t describe himself or Elaine as wealthy. They were educators, historians, authors, devoted members of their church, parents, and friends to many in the community who had a desire to invest in our region. And yet, Dr. Jerry recalled“Someone asked me once if I was rich and without hesitation I said ‘yes’. Oh, in hindsight I know they were talking about wealth and I am sure that I misled them. But honest to God, Elaine and I lived a rich life. 

 “God blessed my wife Elaine and I with plenty – more than we needed. We wanted to pass that abundance along to others who can do some good with it.” 

Dr. Jerry and Elaine Ramsey posing in Branson Missouri

Dr. Jerry and Elaine Ramsey

 Copies of Stealing Puget Sound can be obtained by contacting the DuPont Historical Museum https://www.dupontmuseum.com/ 

To learn more about developing a giving strategy for generations to come, contact GTCF’s Philanthropy team.