Dr. Roberta S. Ramsey went to be with her Lord on Sunday, November 3, 2019 at Bayshore Memory Care facility in Naples, Florida. Causes of death were dementia coupled with Parkinson's
condition. She had been failing slowly since the fall of 2017. Roberta was born to the Hon. W. Robert Smith, long time City Attorney of Ocala, and Lois Strange Smith, a school teacher with the Marion County Public Schools. Memorial Services will be held at the Fuller Funeral Home in Naples, Florida on November 16, 2019 at 2:00 PM.
Roberta enjoyed a happy childhood. She was born on June 5, 1940 in Ocala and lived in a family neighborhood with parks, shady trees, sidewalks, quaint hilly streets, and playgrounds. She attended the Marion County Public Schools, walking to her classes in the era of neighborhood schools with her sister Therrell, who was one year older. She graduated from Ocala High School in the second to last class to attend that facility, in 1958. Her high school record showed top grades, many student leadership activities, excellence in swimming, and also some training in modelling, which served her well in beauty contests. She then attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, still debating garment construction or education as her profession. She was inducted into the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.
In the summer of 1960 she transferred to the University of Florida in Gainesville, in time for the summer semester. She entered and won the Summer Frolics Queen title. Her major became elementary education, and she graduated cum laude in June of 1962. Roberta taught elementary children in the Alachua County Schools for the next year. She and J. Carl Smith of Eustis, FL were then joined in holy matrimony at Ocala 1st Baptist Church, following which they moved several times. Carl's rising career with the Shell Oil Company resulted in elementary teaching positions for Roberta in Miami; in Raleigh, North Carolina; and ultimately Detroit, Michigan. A son known as Carl Jr, was born to her in Florida, and he was joined by brother Randall Robert, known as Randy, in North Carolina. The family's life together in Detroit became challenging, as Carl rose through the ranks of Shell Oil. Recession and regional decline combined to make it difficult for Roberta to secure a teaching position, and she went into professional modelling. Young Randy and Carl performed well in school, and they excelled in sports, which their father supported enthusiastically. Roberta was offered glittering trips as a fashion model, and Carl was bombarded with corporate requests to consider a larger territory. The pressure on the marriage
became too great, and Roberta returned to Florida and elementary teaching. Divorce followed, and Roberta enrolled at the University of Florida for the Master of Special Education degree. This she completed with honors in 1974, and she was referred to the Alternative School operated by the Alachua County Public Schools for emotionally disturbed pupils, for further study.
Two years of teaching the most difficult pupils in the special education lexicon led Roberta to apply for the doctorate in what was then a new and emerging field. She began to develop novel techniques for teaching secondary pupils who would hit teachers and fellow students, do bizarre things, and ultimately wreck the educational process. Her local fame grew; people asked how a beautiful woman who was a model could handle troubled teens who would strike their teachers. Roberta was re-married in 1977 to Dr. Russell Ramsey of the Alachua County Public Schools and a part-time history professor at the University of Florida. Carl Jr. and Randy were instantly supportive, and loving relationships were formed.
Roberta and Russ produced a son Bobby Ramsey in 1979, and he was close to his two half-brothers Carl and Randy. Following some blissful but turbulent times, Roberta moved with Russ to Albany, Georgia in 1981. There she became a Professor of Special Education in a region which had seldom followed any rules about dealing with troubled pupils. Following several years at Albany State University, she was promoted to Assistant Vice President for Academics. In this post her research flowered, and she was sent by the Georgia State Department of Education to create and install legitimate programs for the emotionally troubled adolescent sector. Her work was based on Individualized Curriculum, and leaned heavily toward the Affective Education model.
Young Bobby attended public elementary schools in Albany and enjoyed delightful times with his "big brothers" Carl and Randy. Roberta stood by husband Russ while he worked hard in the corporate administration over the Turner Job Corps Center, which he had led from near the bottom in annual ratings to the upper third of the 102 Centers. In 1987, Russ was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Air Command & Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama. Roberta managed to continue her excellent post-graduate teaching at Albany State University. She also received many visits from Carl and Randy, who had moved on to the University of Florida. Roberta arranged for Russ and Bobby to accompany her on monthly visits to her Mother's house in Ocala, her father having died in 1977.
By 1992, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and Russ's contract with the Air Force was completed. Roberta had begun the process of reducing her teaching strategies both for special education teachers and for pupils to a readable form, and thus began her series of textbooks which are still sold around the world. Roberta and Russ dug their heels deeply into the age group fitness swimming movement. They both reeled in Georgia State Records, and she was unselfishly proud when Russ set a national record in the most grueling event.
Tired of the bureaucratic snarls at Albany State University, Roberta accepted gratefully the Florida Commissioner of Education's offer to teach in a less frantic environment. She transferred as a Full Professor- seldom done at the time- to Georgia Southwestern University at Americus. Here was a more fertile ground for developing her programs. So she and Russ moved to Columbus, Georgia, actually to a suburb called Midland.
During these golden years, Roberta and Russ enjoyed the financial luxury for the first time to take some beautiful trips. These were in addition to the Guest Speaker invitations that both of them received. Roberta spent one summer as a Fullbright Scholar, sharing her special education work with leaders in Singapore and Malaysia. She truly enjoyed the successes of her sons, and she was not slowing in telling her friends all about those successes. She mourned the death of her Mother, Lois Smith, at the age of 100 in 2008. But she had provided all the bedside care for five years
By early 2008, both were fully retired, and Randy invited his parents to move to a beautiful lake front house in Lake Placid, Florida. This delightful experience featured two motor boats hanging in power operated sleds under a boat house roof, a luxury never dreamed of in Roberta's boating days long ago with her Father. But by 2014, Russ had developed a troubling condition known as arrythmia, whereby the heart simply stops beating. In September of that year, Russ's heart stopped for seven seconds, and his car struck a concrete-filled steel post at 37 miles/hour. Rushed to Tampa General Hospital, Roberta met him at the Admissions Desk. Surgeons immediately told Roberta that surgery was useless, for Russ would become a "vegetable" if he survived at all. This happened twice more as the three months of recovery progressed, and Roberta literally shouted in the face of surgeons who spoke gloom and doom. Survival was proclaimed a miracle, and Roberta had won her battle. But the cost was high, for a few months following the accident she began to display the tell-tale signs of dementia. Parkinson's Syndrome accompanied these signs, and by the fall of 2017 Russ and Randy moved Roberta to Naples where she resided in a series of facilities designed to care for dementia patients. In June 2019,
Roberta moved to the Bayshore Memory Assisted Center, one of the nation's top-rated facilities. She was aware of her situation until the final moments, and expressed to Russ that she was leaving soon for Heaven, wanted to go, and felt love for everyone.
People desiring to ask any question about Roberta Smith Ramsey are encouraged to contact: Fuller Funeral Home, 1625 Pine Ridge Road, Naples, Florida 34109. Pastor Ray Cameron; 1st Presbyterian Church ARP; 113 North Oak Avenue; Lake Placid, Florida 33852 is the address for Roberta's charity of choice.