Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Remembering Gerry Ramsberger, an utterly genuine man

RECOMMENDED READING


Years from now, the question will be posed by someone too young to know better.

Shielding their eyes from a midday sun, they will see the name adorning the baseball and softball fields at Boca Ciega High School and ask who Gerry Ramsberger was.

Should I be nearby, I would suggest the youngster find a seat. For there is a story to tell, and it is too important to rush.

Gerry Ramsberger, who passed away Monday at 88, was a character in the best sense of the word. Wholesome, but never preachy. Wise, but down to earth. Sweet, corny, caring and accomplished. And to those who knew him, inordinately lovable.

This is a man who came ashore at Normandy days after the invasion, fought at the Battle of the Bulge and won a Bronze Star. He returned home to play football at Notre Dame, and eventually became a championship-winning coach in football and baseball at Boca Ciega. Ramsberger left the sidelines in the mid 1960s to supervise a jobs program for at-risk kids, and later resigned in solidarity with a teachers strike in Pinellas County.

For the next 30 years, he taught political science at the then-St. Petersburg Junior College, where students would stand in line for hours to sign up for his classes.

"I've had so many of his former players and students tell me, 'Your dad helped turn my life around,' " his son Tom, a circuit judge, said Wednesday. "Hearing that had an impact on me at the time, but looking back it seems even more important now. Think about what that means. The number of lives he touched. It's just magic.''

If you met him only once, you might call Ramsberger charming. If you got to know him well, the far more accurate description is he was an utterly genuine man.

To him, life was never a chore. It was meant to be relished and shared, as if more good times were only a bear hug away. It was almost comical to see his perplexed reaction when faced with someone selfish or rude. It wasn't that he was naive, he just couldn't understand why anyone would choose to behave that way.

"My dad used to say that no one has the secret to life, but I think he figured it out," Tom said. "He gave so much love in his life, it came back to him tenfold."

As the end grew near, the cards and emails began pouring into the home where Ramsberger and his late wife, Dot, raised their six children. He heard from players he coached, students he taught and neighborhood kids who secretly wished their families were as devoted as his.

"I told my dad, 'You could have all the money in the world, and it still wouldn't buy the memories you have or the cards these people are writing,' " his daughter Katie said. "He had always been our hero, and now I realize he had been a hero to a lot of other people."

The ball fields at Boca Ciega were dedicated in his name last week, and Ramsberger watched the ceremony in a video from his bed. He had lived as complete a life as he could have hoped, he told his children, and now it was time for him to join their beloved mother. He passed away three days later.

So who was Gerry Ramsberger? Turns out, it's an easy question to answer.

He was one of the finest men I've ever known.

Comments
Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

These are strange, unsettling times for the University of Florida.The Gators need themselves a football coach.They offer a terrific job. Maybe one of the best jobs in the country.Right?Uh, right? (nervous laugh)Well, we’ll soon find out. Maybe this i...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

On the morning after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Michael W. Smith had pain in his voice. "It’s awful, it’s just awful," said the Grammy-winning Christian music superstar. "Everybody’s going to have their opinio...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:JURY DECIDING IF MATOS DESERVES DEATH FOR HUDSON MURDERSIt took less than three hours for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week for killing ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Death penalty ‘more merciful’ than what Adam Matos showed his victims, prosecutor argues

Death penalty ‘more merciful’ than what Adam Matos showed his victims, prosecutor argues

It took less than three hours for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week.Still, Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia didn’t hold back Tuesday in making his final argument for why Matos deserves a se...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Clouds and temperatures are increasing — and so are rain chances – as Thanksgiving could be a soggy one across the Tampa Bay region.[WTSP]Check the latest Tampa Bay-area live radar: The wet outlook is due to a systems that will produce spotty shower...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida man bites police officer during warrant hearing

Florida man bites police officer during warrant hearing

Miami (AP) — Authorities say a man bit a police officer who was taking him into custody during a hearing in a Miami courtroom.Miami-Dade police spokesman Argemis Colome tells news outlets the officer suffered a "severe injury" when Godel Leveille bit...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Joe Henderson: Low-attendance Athletics fund own stadium, how about Rays?

Joe Henderson: Low-attendance Athletics fund own stadium, how about Rays?

I would like to believe what Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said about a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.It sounded good when he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, "I’m more focused on working with the community to figure out...
Updated: 3 hours ago