Claude Ramsey — former deputy governor, mayor and legislator — dies aged 75

Claude Ramsey, who rose from third-generation Hamilton County strawberry farmer to deputy governor of Tennessee, died Monday at the age of 75, reports the Times Free Press.

In more than 40 years of public service, he was elected five times as county mayor, four times as assessor of property, twice to the Tennessee General Assembly and once as county commissioner. Ramsey never lost an election.

As county mayor, the Republican was credited as playing key roles in acquiring the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant for redevelopment as Enterprise South, landing Volkswagen at the site and in developing the Tennessee Riverpark.

Months after Ramsey won his fifth term as county mayor in 2010 with 77 percent of the vote, new Gov. Bill Haslam tapped him for the post of deputy to the governor.

When he retired in August 2013, after serving longer than the two years he’d agreed to, the governor said the Harrison native had played an integral role in civil service reform, economic development and workforce development training. He called him a “smart, wise counselor who is great at working out problems.” 

After he retired, he opened River Branch Strategies, a government relations firm, in 2015.

Ramsey began his 40-plus-year public service career in 1972, when he scored an upset win for a state House seat over incumbent Laban DeFriese.

After two terms, he ran for and won a seat as a delegate on the state’s last constitutional convention in 1977, which revamped Tennessee’s county government structure from a county court system to the current commission system.

…The family will receive friends Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Bayside Baptist Church, and the family will receive friends before the service from noon until 2 p.m.

A private graveside service will take place in Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

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