Our family is heartbroken to announce the passing of our dad and grandpa, Clare Merrill “Coach” Ramsay, age 88, who died November 14, 2020 at the hospital in St. George, Utah. He was our hero, the man who was bigger than life and would live forever, and it took a global pandemic to take him down. He was born July 16, 1932 in Kanab, Utah to Bertha Merrill and Arthur Grant Ramsay. He was raised in Glendale, Utah and graduated from Valley High School in May of 1950. He was a combat veteran of the Korean War. He married Mary Lee Esplin on April 12, 1956 in the St. George Utah Temple.
Dad graduated from College of Southern Utah (now SUU) in 1959, and from BYU with a teaching degree in 1961. He worked as a teacher and coach at Bryce Valley High School from August of 1961 to May of 1990 when he retired. He also worked summers driving truck for Kaibab Lumber and Arizona Fuels, and as a Park Ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Dad was a commanding presence wherever he was. He had an absolutely brilliant mind right up until his passing. His memory was positively astonishing. Dad had an enthusiasm for life and his optimism has blessed each of us as family members. His smile and huge laugh lit up any room he entered. He adored his sweetheart, Mary Lee, and they spent sixty-four wonderful years together. They were even holding hands in the ICU shortly before he passed. He so loved his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids and was proud of each one of them. Dad’s greatest joy in life was spending time together with his family.
Dad absolutely loved Yellow Jacket, his beloved Bay Bill, and the Meadow. Dad loved a good horse and always believed that a day in the saddle is a day the Lord won’t hold against you. He had an amazing voice and could sing just like Hank Williams. Bus trips and trips in our family car were so entertaining because Dad whistled, yodeled and sang the entire way. Dad loved Disneyland, he loved magical stories and fairytales and he loved Christmas. In fact, Dad loved all holidays.
Dad was a true patriot. He had a fierce love of this great country and never took for granted what it has cost in lives lost and sacrifices made to enjoy the freedoms we have here and now. He was an unbelievable classroom teacher and his students loved his history classes. He literally made each subject come alive as he taught. Dad taught and coached for thirty years at Bryce Valley High School with wonderful faculty members that he loved and had so much fun with.
Dad was a fantastic coach. He mentored and trained young men to be the best that they could be athletically and taught the greatest of life’s lessons on and off the court in the process. Students and athletes who return home and come to visit with Dad always comment on his great influence in their lives. They also love to share memories of bus trips to and from games all over Utah. He was generally the only adult with an entire load of kids. Many of the outings were made on snowy roads. Parents never worried and though there were many hair raising rides, there was never an accident in over thirty years.
After retiring from teaching and coaching, he served 5 terms as a Garfield County Commissioner from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2014, and so enjoyed the many people he worked with. He had many great accomplishments during those years as commissioner and probably the greatest was working with his fellow commissioners to save our Garfield County Hospital. Dad was a fighter and the word quit was not in his vocabulary. He continued to fight right up to the end of his life.
Dad had an insatiable love of the study of the Book of Mormon & had a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He loved Bryce Valley and the old Escalante Mountain. He would say as we walked to school with him each morning, “Look at the old mountain kids. We are so blessed to call this home. How lucky are we?” Dad loved the people of Bryce Valley and considered everyone his true and personal friend. Dad loved life and lived every moment to its fullest extent. On February 23, 2020, he said, “If it’s any better on the other side than it is here, it’s got to be a good place!” Dad, we know where you are and we know without a doubt that it is a better place because you are there! We love you!!
Survivors include his wife Mary Lee Ramsay; children Jeannene (Vance) Pollock, Martin (Carla) Ramsay, Brenda (Dennis) Shakespear, and Wade (Melanie) Ramsay; 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren; and siblings LaRee Ramsay Judd, Edith Ramsay Mills, and Douglas Lee Ramsay. He was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings Maida R. Christensen, Jay L. Ramsay, Laura R. Stevens, Earl Grant Ramsay, and Robert Dean Ramsay.
A graveside service in the Tropic, Utah Cemetery for immediate family is pending. Mosdell Mortuary of Kanab is handling arrangements.