Ramsey celebrates 100 years
- Susan Matheny
- Madras Pioneer - News
A party celebrating Madras resident Wilma Ramsey's 100th birthday was held July 14, at Aspen Court, featuring a prime rib luncheon, two birthday cakes and a bouquet of 100 roses.
Following musical entertainment by soloist Ronald McDonald with Alan Durkee on the piano, Wilma announced that she would like to sing, and belted out her favorite song, "Dark Town Strutters Ball" to the delight of everyone.
Wilma was born July 9, 1906, in Opal City, near Culver, to homesteading parents Joe and Ella (McCoin) Mendenhall.
She inherited a love of music from her father who was a fiddler, and learned how to play the piano as a child.
She later played piano and organ for the Madras High Glee Club, the Methodist Church, played melodramatic music for movies at Madras' first silent movie house, was the only non-Indian member of Dan Macy's Indian Dance Band, and up to age 92 was the organist for the Eastern Star.
She earned a teaching certificate at Oregon Normal School in Monmouth and taught at the one-room Opal City School, In 1928, she married Gus Ramsey, and they purchased the Harry Gard homestead on Agency Plains in 1938. While their sons were growing up, the Ramseys enjoyed outdoor activities, and once took a two-week horseback camping excursion around Mount Jefferson.
Wilma was honored as the Jefferson County Pioneer Queen in 1982. Her husband passed away in 1973, and she later moved to Aspen Court.
Her family includes her sons and their wives, Jim and Diane Ramsey, and Jerry and Dorothy Ramsey, all of Madras; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Among the many cards and letters wishing Wilma a happy 100th birthday were surprise congratulations from the Duchess of York, President and Mrs. Bush, former President Jimmy Carter, and Walter Cronkite.