Obituaries » Glen William Ramseyer
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November 29, 1936 - February 18, 2021
Bill Ramseyer – A Life Well Lived
Glen William (Bill) Ramseyer died on Thursday, February 18, 2021, after suffering a cardiac event two days earlier.
Bill was born November 29, 1936 in Columbus, Ohio, the youngest child of Lloyd and Ferne Ramseyer. His older brother Bob (Alice Ruth) preceded him in death and his sister Mary Jean Wells (Bob) survives him. His family moved to Bluffton, Ohio, in 1947, and he grew up on the campus of Bluffton College where his father served as the college president for 27 years. He loved the college atmosphere and spent most of his life enjoying the campus experience. In 1955, at the very mature age of 18, he married the love of his life, Mary Alice Burry. Mary was his rock and cherished partner. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this past year.
He loved his family and they loved him. His children and their spouses, Jeri and Duane Earley (Wilmington, OH), Cindy Ropp (Bloomington, IL), and Randy and Jenny Ramseyer (Abingdon, VA) were his pride and joy, as were his grandchildren and great-grandchildren that followed. Eight grandchildren include Grace (Dustin) Eads, Sarah (Phil) Evans, Laura (Joel) Dobney, Katie Ropp, Matthew (Lisa) Ropp, Rachel Ropp, Craig (Caitlin) Ramseyer, and Maggie (Tyler) Branton. His 13 great-grandchildren include Paxton and Irene Eads; Titus, Patrick, Gideon, and Lydia Dobney; Maddie Price, Brody and Tucker Ropp; Hudson and Oakley Ramseyer; and Gunnar and Finley Branton. Twin great-grandchildren are expected in August. The manner in which he was always a positive influence on his family is exemplified by what he told his son after throwing five interceptions in a high school football game. Bill said, “I was so proud of you. You never quit and you gave it everything you had.”
His family enjoyed frequent recitations of his antics growing up in Bluffton. He talked about having his first job in 3rd grade sweeping out the local drugstore. He used up all his pay buying comic books. As a kid, he worked at the A&P, candled chicken eggs at a hatchery, and picked strawberries, corn, and melons. He helped build the dining hall at Camp Friedenswald, a church camp in Michigan. He was a hard worker – he always had a job. He also loved mischief. Bill soaped the car windows inside and out of a car parked on campus before he found out the the car belonged to the college’s chairman of the board, who was invited to Bill’s house for dinner. He also served as flagman for unsanctioned car races around College Hall. He was the envy of his high-school peers as his house was next to a green space that hosted majorette camps every summer. He had the best view in town.
Family time was a priority. He attended every event in which his children participated – games, concerts, 4H – you name it, he was there. He was extremely proud of his children’s involvement in activities and their accomplishments. Those who knew him only as a football coach might be surprised to know that at home, he loved playing with his kids and grandkids. Parading around as a drum major with football fight songs blaring, his famous silent screams, shooting hoops in the backyard, Red Rover at the beach, and an old Swiss rhyme while bouncing a grandchild on his knee – he loved it all. He and Mary treasured three-a-day football practices each August in Wise, as the grandchildren would come and do various tasks helping with practices, evening snacks, and other things.
He collected and beautifully restored antique furniture. Someone gave him an old corner cupboard that they kept in a chicken coop and he restored it into a beautiful piece of cherry furniture. He also bought a log cabin built in the 1800s and moved it piece by piece to their home in Wilmington and erected the lovely cabin that still stands there today.
He had a great singing voice and loved to sing. In their growing up years, he regularly regaled his children with a wide variety of football fight songs. At church, he sang hymns with gusto and enjoyed participating in church choirs. Active engagement in a local congregation wherever he lived was a priority.
Bill had a heart for being of service to others. In college, he originally studied to be a minister, but changed to coaching because he felt this would enable him to have more of an impact in the lives of young people. In 1968, he traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the Poor People’s March. As a coach, he regularly involved his players in service to local communities.
He was a very successful football coach for 44 years. He loved his players and coaches and so enjoyed keeping up with them after their playing days were over. In terms of winning and losing, he always took on challenging assignments. While coaching a team at Firelands High School, a team that had never enjoyed a winning season, with 19 players, finished 9-1 in his first year. In his three years as head coach, the team compiled a 24-2 record.
After obtaining a masters degree at Bowling Green State University, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1971. During his time at Missouri, he served as head scout and assistant football coach. He developed the first computerized scouting program for the team. The 1969 Missouri team was the Big 8 Champion and played in the Orange Bowl, and the family had a marvelous time camping in the Everglades and cheering at the game.
In 1972, he was named head football coach at Wilmington College, a small college like the one he grew up around. In the fifteen previous seasons, Wilmington had won only 28 games and had one winning season. Under Coach Ramseyer, Wilmington had an overall record of 114-58-4, seventeen winning seasons, and reached the national playoffs in 1980, 1982, and 1983. Those were the days when only eight teams qualified for the playoffs. In 1980, Wilmington made it to the national championship game.
Accepting a new challenge, he was asked to be the first head coach at Clinch Valley College (now known as the University of Virginia’s College at Wise) after receivng references from legendary coaches Paul Brown and Dan Devine. He was hired in January 1991. The school had no team, no stadium, no field, no uniforms, and no fight song. He brought all of those things together, assembled a team and coaching staff and seven short months later on a beautiful and memorable day, in Wise, Virginia, on September 7, 1991, Clinch Valley achieved its first victory in its first game ever and the team began the tradition of singing the new fight song after each victory. In 1995, CVC was in the national playoffs. The following season, 1996, was the school’s only undefeated season with a repeat appearance in the playoffs. He built a program from scratch and compiled a record at UVa-Wise of 62-46 with seven winning seasons.
He loved building facilities for athletics. Stadiums built during his tenure as coach still stand at Firelands High School and Wilmington College. UVa-Wise’s excellent football facilities were started during his stay, and the press box which followed is named in his honor.
Bill was successful at places where it was difficult to win because he didn’t worry about things he couldn’t control and he spent his energy on the things he could control. He was positive about everything.
Bill would be the first to say that his success was due, in large part, to the incredible assistant coaches he worked with over the years. Bruce Wasem, who had played for him at Firelands High School, coached with him for 28 years at Wilmington College and UVa-Wise. Bill treasured Bruce as a loyal and valuable coaching partner and friend.
Bill was thankful for his friend and assistant coach Greg Oliver who could always make him laugh. Bill so appreciated the great leadership of Bob Lucas at Wilmington College. He was grateful to Chancellor Jim Knight for bringing him to Clinch Valley to bring college football to far Southwest Virginia.
In his retirement, he greatly enjoyed phone calls from former players and coaches. To the very end, he could tell you the score of any football game he was part of, and all kinds of interesting facts about those games.
Bill is a member of Halls of Fame at Bluffton College, Wilmington College, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Clinton County, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He authored several books including “Flip That Coin,” “Are You Ready for the Coin Toss,” and “Football’s Most Challenging Two Minutes.”
Retirement didn’t slow Bill down. For two summers, he and Mary traveled to Switzerland to coach the Winterthur Warriors. They enjoyed making wonderful friendships there. They returned to a retirement home that he designed on Harbor Island, South Carolina, which they enjoyed for fifteen years. When visiting, a regular source of entertainment would be to ride on the golf cart with him as he scoped out license plates of everyone visiting the island, welcoming new friends.
In his final years, Parkinson’s Disease took its toll, but he always tried to stay positive.
His was a life well-lived. He was kind, loving, gracious, and good. He was a people-person and cared deeply for family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Bill’s honor to the Bill and Mary Ramseyer Scholarship Fund at UVa-Wise; Wilmington College; Bluffton College; or to Mennonite Home Communities.
Because of the COVID pandemic, a private graveside ceremony will be held. Plans are being made for memorial services and celebrations of life when conditions improve.