Thomas (Tom) Donald Ramsay 1939-2022
Thomas (Tom) Donald Ramsay, the former state representative from Mt. Vernon, (District 2), former member and chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, former MVISD School Board member, former banker, Mt. Vernon real estate investor and broker, Mt. Vernon Tiger super-fan, loving husband, brother, father, cousin, uncle and grandfather passed away at age 82 in his Franklin County home on Saturday, July 9, 2022 surrounded by loving family.
Born in 1939 in the first Mt. Vernon hospital located on Main St. just east of the square, Tom Ramsay was reared in his beloved East Texas hometown. A 1958 MVHS graduate, he was an all-district lineman for the Tigers and went on to play college football for a year at Arlington State University (now University of Texas at Arlington), later transferring to SMU where he joined Phi Delta Theta and completed his business degree.
Working in Dallas for Harris-Seybold where he out-sold everyone in the company in 1969, he later moved on to Don Meredith’s investment firm, First of Texas.
In the midst of his Dallas work experience, he met his wife, Laurie, when she noticed him by the pool while moving into a new apartment complex on Gaston Ave. Making note of which apartment he went into, later that afternoon she knocked on his door to ask if she could have a spare closet rod, having “broken” her own. We’re not sure if she actually had broken her own closet rod, but if you could see her closet now, the story is believable. They were married within six months.
But Tom couldn’t wait to get back to Mt. Vernon. In 1973, Tom, Laurie and baby Michael moved back home to join a partnership to initiate the Tall Tree development on the then brand-new Lake Cypress Springs. Soon after that, he got into other varied real estate ventures. He brought the Sonic to Mt .Vernon, the Dairy Queen, Dandy Donuts and Dandy Mart 1 & 2 (now a nail salon and Exxon). He helped, along with John Wilhite, to develop the residential housing on Park Lane. Tom drove down to Tyler and convinced Mr. Brookshire that one of his grocery stores would be a success in Mt. Vernon. Tom built a facility for them to rent. It wasn’t long before the success of Brookshires proved the need for their own building. Currently, the Mt. Vernon Brookshires is one of their most profitable stores outside of Tyler. Tom gathered investors and formed Mt. Vernon’s second bank, Franklin National Bank (currently Prosperity Bank). Tom served on its board for many years.
But another position dear to his heart, the Mt. Vernon School Board, spearheaded his direction into politics. He saw changes that needed to be made at the state legislative level for the benefit of Texas children. He ran for the office of state representative in 1992 and won. He served in this capacity until 2003. During that time, he served as chairman of County Affairs. With the help of Governor Ann Richards, Tom brought the Lowe’s Distribution Center to Franklin County. When TxDOT said it would take one year to bring an access road to Lowe’s, Tom called Governor Richards. The access road was built in two months.
After Tom left the State Legislature in 2003, it wasn’t long before the governor of Texas appointed him to the Ethics Commission. He was appointed to two four-year terms, serving one of those years as chairman.
Throughout his political career, he remained a loyal Rotarian to the Mt. Vernon chapter in which his father had been a founding member. Tom was also a Paul Harris Fellow. Additionally, he served on the Industrial Foundation of Franklin County.
Because Tom’s four children went through the Mt. Vernon public school system, he was one of the biggest promoters of Mt. Vernon, including its sports and the education of its youth. He has left a lasting legacy. And, with Tom gone, someone is going to have to step up to yell at refs from the stands at the Don Meredith Stadium during home football games.
Tom is survived by his wife, Laurie, and their four children and spouses: Michael and Diane Ramsay of Mt. Pleasant, Mark Ramsay and Brian Corkins of Dallas, Allison and Ryan Higgins soon to be of Mt. Vernon and Jordan and Brooke Ramsay of Mt. Vernon.
Along with his four children, he was blessed with 15 grandchildren: Rusti, Gabe and his wife Sara, Kade, Tallon and Raif Ramsay; Andrew, Rebekah, Rachel, Joseph, Sarah and Hannah Higgins; and Samuel, Roy, Ruth and Naomi Ramsay.
Tom is also survived by three siblings and spouses: Lanny and Kitty Ramsay of Mt. Vernon, Rosalind Ramsay Bell of Mt. Vernon and Cynthia and Kirk Woodall of Dallas as well as many first cousins and their spouses: Dana and Fred Barton of Mt. Vernon, Anna and Richard Thompson of New Orleans, Barbara and Jim Gattis of Austin, Marilyn and Hermes Payne of Austin, Sandra Segrest of Austin, Jimmy and Betty Meek of Dallas and Susan and Tom Lichtenwalter of Dallas.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Landon and Mozelle Ramsay; grandchild, Isaac Higgins; and brother-in-law, Paul Bell.
Tom loved his family and for decades enjoyed holiday get-togethers with his parents, siblings (and siblings’ growing families) and children (and childrens’ growing families). Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were always spent in joyful fellowship.
Funeral services will be on Friday, July 22, 2022 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Mt. Vernon. There will a reception afterward for a time of fellowship and visiting with the family.