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William H. Ramsey '51 Dead at 67


MIT Graphic Arts
William H. Ramsey '51

William H. Ramsey '51, who directed the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program as executive director of engineering special programs, died on Jan. 14.

Ramsey was 67 and was planning to retire this summer, according to Associate Dean of Engineering John B. Vander Sande. His friends and colleagues were shocked and saddened by the event.

A memorial service was held last Thursday, but another service will be held this spring, according Dean of the School of Engineering Joel Moses PhD '67.

"Bill was a very caring individual," said Professor of Mechanical Engineering Thomas B. Sheridan ScD '59. He "cared a great deal about the students, and he extended his caring to the whole community" through community projects.

Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics Leon Trilling, who worked with Ramsey through the MITES program, said, "He was a very wonderful human being and extremely skillful in understanding and thoughtful in dealing with the students that came to him."

"He had a combination of firmness and empathy which I much admired," Trilling said.

MITES allows about 50 minority students to take part in a rigorous academic program during the summer following their junior year of high school. Ramsey was also responsible for the Engineering Internship Program.

"Bill was a caring guy and very much concerned with the economic status of blacks and minorities in general," Sheridan said.

Before his position in the School of Engineering, Ramsey was an officer in the Industrial Liaison Office. He came to the Institute in 1987.

"He had great loyalty to his students and great loyalty to MIT as an institution," Trilling said.

"Bill Ramsey was a dedicated and effective leader of educational efforts, and was a very warm and caring mentor," said President Charles M. Vest. "Some 800 young men and women have benefited from the MITES program over the years. Their success and contributions to society are Bill's legacy," Vest said.

"Bill Ramsey did exceptional things for people and for MIT," said Provost Mark S. Wrighton. "I had the opportunity to interact with him in connection with our MITES program, and he was extraordinary: sensitive, yet firm; encouraging, yet realistic. Bill was a truly dedicated man and one who had earned an enjoyable old age."

Ramsey grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. and attended MIT as an undergraduate. He received his degree in electrical engineering in 1951, then worked in military electronics for 20 years. In the following 15 years, hemoved on to management consulting and the vice presidency of Ault Inc., an electronics company in Minneapolis, before returning to the Institute as an administrator.

Ramsey was active in church activities in Newton, Sheridan said. In addition, "he ran several companies during his life and was a glider pilot," he said.

Ramsey, who had a retirement home on the Carribbean island of St. Kitts, often shared his knowledge of the island's geography and culture with his colleagues.

It is unfortunate that he planned so well for his retirement and will never benefit from his plans, Vander Sande said.

Ramsey was a board member of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and he was a former president of the board of the City Mission Society in Boston.

Ramsey is survived by his wife, Charlotte M. (Finley) Ramsey; his children, Marc S. of Palo Alto, Calif. and Lynne Clark of Pittsburgh; a brother, Roland of Barbados; and a granddaughter, Charlotte Ann Clark.