January 25, 2019

Couple’s generosity results in endowment for Tell City parish

LaVerne and Guy Neil Ramsey. (Submitted photo)

LaVerne and Guy Neil Ramsey. (Submitted photo)

By Victoria Arthur (Special to The Criterion)

Guy Neil Ramsey had no idea his life was about to change forever that evening in 1949 as he entered the Knights of Columbus hall in Tell City.

He was back home again in southern Indiana after serving his country during and following World War II—first as a paratrooper n the Army’s 11th Airborne Division, and later as part of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s occupying forces stationed in Japan.

The 21-year-old veteran had no ties to the Knights of Columbus. He wasn’t even Catholic. But he had Catholic buddies, and they convinced him to accompany them to a dance on this particular evening.

And that’s where he met LaVerne Roos.

“I knew right away that I wanted to marry her,” recalled the Perry County native. He was taken not only with her beauty, but her character. In the next two years of courtship, he observed LaVerne’s fervent devotion to the Catholic Church, and the way that her faith guided her life and decision making.

“I married a super-Catholic,” Ramsey says with a mixture of humor and ardent admiration. “She is Catholic through and through, and she and the Church have really made my life what it is today.”

By all accounts, the Ramseys’ life together has been characterized by an abundance of blessings, from the large family they raised to the hugely successful real estate development company they built. And in their 67 years of marriage, they have shared their blessings freely and joyfully—especially with the Church, which Guy Neil Ramsey was received into two years after they were wed.

The latest example of their generosity is a $1 million legacy endowment gift to the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) for St. Paul Parish in Tell City, their spiritual home throughout their married life.

“I’ve been blessed in my business, I’ve been blessed with my kids, I’ve been blessed with my wife—I’ve been blessed with my life,” Ramsey said. “We are very, very happy to give this gift to St. Paul. Meeting my wife and converting to the Catholic Church are the best things that ever happened to me.”

Giving back from God’s blessings

As the Ramseys were embarking on married life in the early 1950s, St. Paul Parish was also undergoing growth and change. The parish community not far from the banks of the Ohio River was nearing its centennial, and a new worship space was dedicated in 1954. St. Paul School was also expanding, and all six of the Ramseys’ children would graduate from there.

Guy Neil Ramsey’s business was growing rapidly as well. What began with the construction of one house as a favor for a friend evolved into Ramsey Development Corporation, a builder of homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities in nearly all Indiana counties. Meanwhile, LaVerne Ramsey took care of business on their own home front, while also immersing herself in the life of their parish.

“LaVerne has been very involved [at St. Paul] from the very beginning,” Ramsey said. “She has been a dedicated member of the choir for 50 years. She was an [extraordinary] minister [of holy Communion], and she was always there for anything and everything the parish needed. She was also the motivation for everything our family did for the parish.”

For his part, the Catholic convert also began serving the Church with great enthusiasm—both at the parish and archdiocesan levels. During his time on the CCF board in the early 1990s, Ramsey developed a friendship with and admiration for then-Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

“He worked so hard,” Ramsey recalled. “The guy never let up—it was unbelievable.”

The same could be said for Ramsey himself. At 91, he still keeps his hand in the business he founded, although sons Neil and Cris oversee most of the day-to-day operations. He views his company’s success—as well as all of his good fortune—as a gift from God. Accordingly, giving back has always been a way of life for the Ramseys.

‘Something lasting and meaningful’

Through the years, they have contributed generously to their parish and to the archdiocese through the Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey Foundation. Their charitable giving includes generous donations to the annual United Catholic Appeal and to various archdiocesan capital campaigns.

Now, their $1 million gift ranks as one of the largest endowment fund gifts the archdiocese has ever received for a parish. Established in 1987, CCF helps to ensure the long-term financial stability of Catholic parishes, schools and ministries through endowments and legacy gifts. The Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey Endowment Fund through CCF will be earmarked for repairs, maintenance and general upkeep of the parish buildings at St. Paul, per the Ramseys’ wishes.

A legacy gift like this one is so named because it produces annual income in perpetuity. The money is combined with other CCF assets and invested with money managers in a pool of funds, always in keeping with Catholic values.

With endowment funds typically paying out 5 percent annually, the Ramseys’ latest gift will produce an estimated annual income of $50,000 per year for St. Paul Parish.

Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general who recently met the Ramseys, expressed gratitude for such generosity.

“It’s always an overwhelming experience to meet people who come forward and make a gift to the Church because they want to leave a legacy for the future,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “The Ramseys are very kind people who love their Church, who love their parish, who feel blessed and want to share those blessings. How grateful we are to them that they want to share their treasure with the archdiocese and its mission.”

‘Blessed beyond belief’

For the Ramseys, the word “legacy” takes on multiple meanings. Beyond their lasting gifts to the Church, there are their six children and 12 grandchildren, all of whom practice their Catholic faith. There are also six great-grandchildren to date, who help keep the couple young.

After living in the same house in Tell City for 50 years, they now call a Ramsey-built condominium home. They have enjoyed generally excellent health throughout their married life, with the exception of a life-threatening infection that LaVerne suffered in 2007.

Now 87, LaVerne is recuperating from a recent bout of double pneumonia. But her husband is by her side, nursing her back to health. As with everything else in his life, Guy Neil Ramsey faces this challenge with a sense of faithfulness and gratitude.

“I have nothing but appreciation for what God has done for us and the kind of life we’ve had,” he said. “LaVerne has been the best wife anyone could ask for. She is one in a million. It’s a pleasure to me, taking care of her.

“I’ve been blessed beyond belief.”

(Victoria Arthur is a member of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg. For more information about the Catholic Community Foundation, creating a legacy fund or to donate online, go to www.archindy.org/ccf.)

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