She packed a lot into 102 years
The Tampa Tribune - Tuesday, November 15, 1994
Author: PATTY RYAN, Tribune Staff Writer
TAMPA -- For half a century, Louise Paul Ramey -- one of Tampa's first female executives -- was the quiet force behind Martin Outdoor Advertising, an outdoor sign empire.
She died Sunday at 102, a slightly reluctant pacesetter for women in the workplace.
"You won't get me to say any women's lib things," she told a reporter in 1975, when she chaired Martin's board of directors, just before she sold the company for $9 million.
"I think it is the man's place to lead."
While others talked, Ramey worked. When the great hurricane of 1921 hit Tampa, Ramey stayed on the job. She started as a saleswoman for Martin, a company that wouldn't accept cigarette or liquor advertisements. She moved on to bookkeeper and gradually became majority owner.
"It was done so quietly, nobody in the community realized what was going on," says Bud Gilmore, a longtime friend who married Ramey 's niece, Betsy. "But in fact, at one time, she was probably the top woman executive in the city of Tampa."
"She had the reins," says her grandson, Stephen. "I asked her once why she wasn't the president. She said, "The treasurer writes the checks. I'm the one that signs the checks.' "
She was born in Durant, east of Tampa. After a freeze a century ago, her family moved to town. Her mother set up the first hot lunch programs in Hillsborough County and her father helped build early Memorial Highway.
She grew up when Franklin Street wasn't paved.
She dated a young man named Dale Mabry.
She went to work for Martin Outdoor Advertising in 1920, a widow with a young son, and didn't find cause to leave.
"They ran a fine shop," Gilmore recalls. "The employees were loyal, they came to work on time, and they never had a truck that was dirty or damaged. You never saw poster board with paper peeling off it."
And Martin shared its prosperity with employees, helping them educate their children, a practice Ramey continued throughout her life, funding scholarships and putting her money where it could do good.
Well into her 90s, she drove, attended basketball games at Bayshore Christian School and worked out at the YMCA three days a week. As a centenarian, she could touch the floor with her palms when people half her age had trouble reaching ankles.
She was president of the YWCA of Tampa, a United Way board member, a founding member of the Tower Club, and belonged to the Azalea Garden Circle, the Pilot Club, and the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.
She was a member of Bayshore United Methodist Church and an ordained minister in the Unity Church.
In addition to her grandson, she is survived by two granddaughters, Gaile Ramey of Westport, Conn., and Paige Ramey of San Francisco; and numerous nieces and nephews.
National Cremation Society of Tampa is handling arrangements.
Index Terms: OBIT ; DEATH ; CENTENARIAN TPH ; LOUISE RAMEY; BIOG ; CAREER ; OBIT
Record Number: 099
Copyright 1994 The Tribune Co.
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