Woman’s Magazine - April 1996
PROFILE: Patsy Ramsey
by Deborah Rosenberger
The importance of home and family has never been more talked about than it has in the nineties as men and women struggle to meet the demands of busy, complicated lives. In the midst of so many options and as a result of a life- threatening illness three years ago, Patsy Ramsey has chosen her lifestyle and has dedicated herself to the role of stay-at-home mother, a title that seems to be a bit of a misnomer, since Ramsey is rarely at home. She :fills her days with volunteer service to the community and in her children's schools. In addition, she regularly travels with her husband John, CEO and president of Access Graphics, an international distributor of computer products that is headquartered in Boulder . "I've intentionally chosen not to participate in anything that requires evening meetings," says Ramsey. "That's the time when my family really comes :first. Whether we're dining in or out, dinner time is set aside to review everyone's daily activities and talk things over. "
As a woman formerly involved in a successful career in advertising as well as other ventures, choosing to abandon the career for what some would consider an unexciting lifestyle was an easy decision. "Being a mother and mentor to my children is the most important role I will play in my life," she says. "It is certainly the most difficult job I'll ever have!"
For Ramsey, her husband John, and their own children, Burke, 9, JonBenet 5, and her step-children Melinda and John Andrew, the decision has been an ideal one and has led to the family's overall well-being. "It's a big job to be a full-time wife and mother," says Ramsey. "The logistics of it all in the 90'S can be overwhelming. It's an even more difficult challenge for women with careers, as they still :find themselves intuitively doing the 'mom's jobs' as well."
"Realistically, " Ramsey goes on, "women still have 2-3 jobs. Many have full time jobs as well as shouldering the majority of the responsibility for their children. We really can't give 100% in so many different areas, and often, something suffers. Many times, it's the woman's health. We're so busy taking care of others -children, husbands, parents -that we don't take enough time to care for ourselves. "
Ramsey herself was raised with two sisters in a typically traditional household in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Her formative years were greatly influenced by her upbringing. The household was full of closeness and love, and the girls' father worked outside the home, while their mother did not. Extended family activities were spent with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on weekends.
(photo -Patsy Ramsey -inserted here)
Ramsey moved to Atlanta (GA) soon after her graduation from West Virginia University. With her bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing, Ramsey began her career with McCann- Ericson Advertising Agency , where she focused on doing promotional marketing for Coca-Cola USA. Later she joined Hayes Microcomputer Products, Inc., as Director of Marketing Services, and worked there for five years developing user-friendly product instruction manuals. One of the software manuals Ramsey was responsible for won first place in an international technical writing competition. Her job with Hayes also put her in charge of special events, trade shows, and in-house advertising.
Since relocating to Boulder from Atlanta in 1990, Ramsey's family has continued to be very important to her. In 1993 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, an illness she has since learned runs in her family. It has been Ramsey's personal strength, powerful love of family, and deep sense of faith in a Divine healing that enabled her to stay the course through nine months of chemotherapy treatments at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda (MD).
During Ramsey's battle with cancer, her mother came to live with the family in Boulder for a year. "Coincidentally," Ramsey recalls, "my mother had just retired two days before my diagnosis from a full time job that she had enjoyed for several years after her children were grown -just in time to be a full time mom again! She not only took care of me, but she helped John take care of our children as well. We couldn't have gotten along without her." Because Ramsey's father works with John at Access Graphics in Boulder, he was also close during that time, and the family had many friends who offered their support as well. "Even though we had only lived in Boulder a short time, our friends and neighbors came to our rescue with prepared meals, and they drove the kids to school and piano lessons -they gave us an overwhelming amount of moral support. We were surely blessed. "
Even as everyone around her was so wonderful to her children, says Ramsey, "1 knew that ultimately, they were my real reason to fight the cancer and live! N o one can take care of my kids and do the things I want to do with them the way I can. And I plan to be around for a long time to see them through. "
Ramsey is comfortably seated in her sun room in an oversized chair, a small arrangement of daffodils and tulips reposes next to her. "1 consciously decided to take the time to enjoy the small things like fresh cut flowers, " she says. "They bring great joy to my life." Ramsey's smile broadens as she describes her early morning hours. "Every morning I look out my bedroom window at daybreak, " she says, "and I thank God for another day to be living here and taking care of my children. "
"We all get so busy, so caught-up in life, and we come to believe that we are in control, " Ramsey reflects. "We live by our Day timers and go from one appointment to another until something like cancer presents another agenda and we realize that life is fleeting." Even Ramsey's great love for life was seriously challenged when, in the face of her life-threatening illness, she looked at her two young children and her husband. mtimately, Ramsey found the strength to do a lot more than fight the cancer; at the top of her list was working to improve relations with family and friends. "Nothing becomes more important, " she recalls, "than simply living to see another day, receiving a phone call or card or a much needed visit from caring friends and neighbors. "
Ramsey never forgets how fortunate she is -not only to have fought the illness but also to have the opportunity to live the life she has chosen. Many of us today do not have the option to choose between a career and a family. For Ramsey, the privilege of such a choice is clearly one she revels in. "1 get up early every morning to get my children ready for school, " she says. "1 pack their lunches and set them off -then I have from 9:00 to 3:00 to participate in my own interests."
Ramsey has always been involved in her community and believes that volunteer work is an important contribution. Ramsey's skills and professional acumen serve her well as she writes business plans for fund raising projects and job descriptions for committee workers and meets with area professionals and corporate executives to solicit sponsorships to benefit local causes. From her efforts with the Eggleston Children's Hospital that raises over $1,000,000 annually to her work Iocally on such illustrious projects as the "Toast to the Artists" opening night event for the Colorado Dance Festival that will honor Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ramsey has impressed all around her .
Though she takes much-deserved pride in these labors, most of her volunteer work is centered around her children. This spring, for example, she was chairperson of the science fair at High Peaks, a Core Knowledge School. Ramsey found the entire experience to be very rewarding, and she enjoyed encouraging the young people's talent. Ramsey has also co-chaired a successful fund-raising effort through the school known as the "Good Fairy Project," which she helped create from its inception four years ago.
As a former Miss West Virginia and Miss America talent winner, Ramsey continues to serve as a judge and patron for the Miss America Scholarship Program. "Miss America awards millions of dollars in scholarships for women annually, " she says. "It continues to be an organization that encourages higher education for women. " Ramsey also promotes women's scholarships through the University Women's Club at CU-Boulder. She serves on the benefit Style Show & Luncheon committee, and she will chair the entire event in the spring of 1997.
Although Ramsey puts a great deal of energy into her local community , she is hardly confined to activities around Boulder. Being the wife of a busy corporate CEO requires Ramsey to accompany John to many functions around the world. Most recently, the couple attended a formal affair in Washington, D.C., honoring the retiring CEO of Lockheed- Martin.
But Ramsey hasn't always been just the graceful hostess on the arm of the CEO. "When the company was in its early years, I was always involved in designing brochures and catalogs for them," she says. "For years I designed the company catalog on a laser printer at midnight with very limited outside support. Today, the same catalog is a four-color, multi-lingual product developed by an entire department, " she recalls with a laugh.
In light of all of Ramsey's family obligations, chosen responsibilities and devoted energy on her volunteer work, she admits that there are other interests that she hasn't found time to pursue. "I'd love to find the time to paint," she says. "Somehow I always think I'll get to it during the summer when we're in our cottage in Michigan. But it hasn't happened -yet!"
The Ramsey family summer house may not yet be home to Ramsey artistry, but it is home to countless other activities for the Ramseys and their children. It's the most wonderful spot on earth, " says Ramsey. Obviously, other people in the small town of Charlevoix (MI) agree; this July, the house will be part of the local tour of homes, a benefit fund raiser for the local area hospital.
Ramsey is no stranger to home tours. Her Boulder home was part of the Historic Boulder Holiday Home Tour in December, 1994. "That was the first Christmas after my chemotherapy treatments, " recalls Ramsey. "I was still wearing my wig when the guests arrived. It was really good therapy to be decorating and getting ready for the tour, to get back into fun things again. You'd never know that 2000 people came through the house in two days! I began to give something back to the community after being given a second chance at life. "
With this second chance, Patsy Ramsey plans to enjoy each day and live for the moment. She is doing more than sustaining herself and her family. She has a favorite quotation by Edwin Markham that she truly lives by;
"It is destiny which makes us brothers~ None goes by his wayalone.
All that we send into the lives of others, Comes back into our own. "
There's no doubt that Ramsey works to spread the good fortune and love she has experienced in her own life. Today, she lives cancer-free, and she shares her joy and enthusiasm for life with everyone around her. As she says, "Being alive makes me happy. "
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