Keysville mayor resigns mid-term

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

After nearly 10 years, Thursday, June 30 marked the end of 87-year-old James Ramsey Jr.’s time leading Keysville, saying he decided to resign because it was time to take stress out of his life for his health.

Halting in the middle of his third four-year term, Ramsey, after being actively involved with the town for the past 60 years, said he was tired.

“I’m just getting too old; my age is catching up with me,” the former Keysville mayor said, adding he shouldn’t have run for reelection in 2014, but no one else sought the position. He ran unopposed in the past two elections (2010, 2014).

Prior to his first term as mayor, Ramsey had been a member of the Keysville Town Council as well as the town clerk and treasurer. He said one of his proudest accomplishments in the realm of public service came in 1963, he was town clerk and treasurer at the time, when he was a part of the town updating its water system by building a plant and adding the sewer.

The former mayor said things have grown in Keysville “over the past 10, 15 years.”

Business expansions, like the Appomattox River Manufacturing Company and store additions like Family Dollar, occurred during Ramsey’s time.

When Ramsey first ran, he said he did so after being asked by a few people, including the mayor at the time, who decided not to seek re-election and died a couple years into Ramsey’s first term.

The former mayor said he’s tried to do his best for the town after being one of the few people willing to step up to the position.

“There wasn’t a lot of people who would stick their neck out and do it. Because you can’t please everybody,” said Ramsey. “My philosophy has always been to take the information that you had or you can glean and the source of information that you have available and make the best of it.”

Though Ramsey said he was retiring from public service, he plans to continue actively volunteering with the cemetery association, which provides grave site services and burial privileges to families.

People pay a certain amount and the association maintains the grave sites forever. All the proceeds are invested, according to Ramsey.

“There isn’t any income that comes with it,” he said.

Outside of his time serving the town, after he graduated from Virginia Polytechnic in 1956, Ramsey ran a furniture store with his wife, Lee, for 50 years. Lee was also a high school music teacher during the 80s.

Before going to college and graduating, Ramsey was part of the military draft in 1951 during the Korean conflict. He recalled the exact date he received his letter — Feb. 5, 1951 — and the day he returned from duty, Nov. 7, 1953.

“Thirty-three months, two days,” said Ramsey, who exited the Army as a first lieutenant.

Ramsey, born in Madisonville, said with a shrug and a smile, now he’s “just hanging around here doing nothing and being in people’s way.”

According to the Keysville Town Office, Town Councilmember Audrey Payne will serve as acting mayor until an election is held to officially replace Ramsey.