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Ralph Willis El-Ramey

Ralph Willis El-Ramey passed away suddenly at home on February 1, 2015. He was named after his father’s best friend and the doctor who delivered him on August 21, 1926, in Farmville. He was the son of Joseph and Essie El-Ramey who both immigrated from Lebanon to this country in the early 1900’s.

Ralph was predeceased by his loving wife of nearly fifty years, Crickett; his brother, Dr. Thomas El-Ramey of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and his sister, Anisa El-Ramey Matthews of Raleigh.

He is survived by his children: daughter Teri Kennedy of Wilson, daughter Gwynn Hooks (Bob) of Tobaccoville, and son Ralph “Butch” El-Ramey, Jr. (Debra) of Wilson. Also surviving are his grandchildren: Ralph Griffin Kennedy (Hallie), Jesse El-Ramey, Hannah El-Ramey Woodall (Jason) and Abi El-Ramey; his great-grandchildren: Robert Samuel Woodall, Joseph Nassif “Seth” Woodall, Sarah Grae Woodall; his nephews: Dr. Charles Matthews (Kim) of Raleigh, Blake El-Ramey, Clint El-Ramey (Margarita) and his niece Lisa Hyslop (Beck) all of Florida.

Ralph was a loving father, grandfather, uncle, neighbor, and friend. His early career was manager of Stewart-Everett Theaters across North Carolina before settling in Wilson in 1954. In 1962 Ralph became an insurance representative for Met Life and Colonial Life, helping many local teachers to plan for retirement. Ralph was civic-minded and was proud to serve as mayor from 1979 – 1992. His affable personality suited him perfectly for this position, and he served with distinction, proud that he never missed a meeting or ribbon cutting. During his tenure the Buckhorn Reservoir project was completed. Ralph was also instrumental in the early organization of the Hot Stove League and remained a loyal supporter of the Wilson Baseball Museum. Ralph was a former deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Wilson and had been active in past years in the Lions, Moose, and Shrine Clubs as well as serving as Exalted Ruler of the Elks Club. He was also an honored recipient of the Rotary Club’s distinguished Paul Harris Fellowship.

Ralph was always happiest in the company of friends, whether at a sporting event, oyster roast, with his lunch bunch, betting a “quarter and a drink of water” in a card game, the Elks Club, or at Dick’s Hot Dogs where he preferred his “all the way with extra onions”. The camaraderie of annual reunions at Emerald Isle and the North Carolina mountains were especially dear to his heart, as were the many visits of friends and neighbors on his front porch. Ralph never met a stranger. If the measure of a man’s life is in his friends, Ralph was truly rich beyond compare. These humble words cannot capture the engaging character of Ralph. He savored every step of life’s journey, and we will cherish his memory in our hearts forever.

The memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday, February 5, 2015, at the First Presbyterian Church, 414 Sunset Road, Wilson. The family will receive friends immediately following the service. The Rev. Dr. Tom Watkins will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be considered to the Joseph Nassif and Essie Abeyounis El-Ramey Scholarship Fund, Barton College, PO Box 5000, Wilson, NC 27893 or the charity of one’s choice.

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