Nurse, artist, storyteller loved children

Margaret C. Ramsey, a retired nurse, folk artist and storyteller, loved children and loved introducing the arts to them, her daughter said.

 

"My mother never met a stranger," Charlotte Price said. "Once you met her, you never forgot her. She loved people, and that came out in her art."

Ramsey, who died Sunday, was one of the few local artists whose works were acquired in the early days of Morris Museum of Art, said Louise Keith Claussen, a former director of the museum.

"(Ramsey) embraced the mission of the new museum in Augusta and became a familiar face at lectures and educational programs," Claussen said. "Museum visitors, especially children, embraced her art in return. Her memory paintings, as she called them, were favorites with school tours."

Because she loved children so much, Ramsey's daughters, Price and Sylvia Rozier, are asking family and friends to make memorial donations to the Morris Museum's education programs.

"In the end, it is those of us who survive her who are the truly fortunate," Kevin Grogan, the director of the Morris Museum, said in a statement. "We're all much the richer for her having been among us."

Born in 1932 in a one-bedroom house in Douglas, Ga., Ramsey was the eldest of nine children. She was the first member of her family to graduate from high school, and she was valedictorian of her class. She went on to complete nursing school, and returned to her home to become the first black registered nurse in Coffee County.

She passed along her love of helping others, and both of her daughters are nurses today.

"Her physician told me that Mama was one of the most intelligent persons he'd ever met," Price said. "She never forgot anything. Even though she was close to 80, she kept up with what was going on in the world, and she would tell me about it."

A self-taught folk artist who painted her childhood memories and stories she'd heard, Ramsey discovered the art of storytelling as she showed her art. She told stories at schools, festivals, Artists Row and the Morris Museum.

Ramsey contributed to the children's book Jump Up and Say: A Collection of Black Storytelling , published by Simon and Schuster in 1995.

Her paintings are in many public and private collections, including that of former President Jimmy Carter, according to the Morris Museum, which owns four of her paintings.

Price said arthritis prevented her mother from painting as she got older, but age didn't slow her mind down.

"I will miss her laugh and her giggle," Price said. "And, she was so wise. Some people age and just get older. But Mama got wiser, and that's what I will miss is her wisdom."

Ramsey was preceded in death by her husband of 30 years, James. She is survived by her daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements, by Williams Funeral Home, are incomplete.