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James Ramey

Obituary Condolences

James Thomas Ramey 1914-2010 Loving and cherished father of Dr. James North Ramey and Drucilla Stender Ramey, Dean of Golden Gate University school of Law; adored grandfather of Dr. James Thomas Ramey II, Sarah Marie Ramey, Jessica Stella Ramey Stender, Margaret McNeill Ramey and Caitlin Elizabeth Vaughn; preceded in death by his breathtaking wife, Dr. Estelle Rosemary Ramey, and his siblings Leon Ramey, Evalyn Ford, Arte Mishie Ramey and Juanita Ramsay. Jim was the longest-serving Commissioner of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, an architect of the Nuclear Navy, and a pioneer of peacetime uses of nuclear energy. Born in Eddyville, Kentucky, he became a proud and lifelong liberal Democrat, a passionate defender of racial, gender and religious equality, an advisor to Presidents, and a generous, wise and loving friend and family man. He was a phi beta kappa basketball star at Amherst College ('37), and in 1941 graduated from the Columbia School of Law. Just prior to graduation, Jim and Estelle were married by Reinhold Niebuhr and moved to Knoxville, TN, where Jim served as an attorney for the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1947 Jim was hired by David Lilienthal as Assistant General Counsel for the new Atomic Energy Commission, and in 1949 moved to the AEC's Chicago office where he worked with Admiral Hyman Rickover to draft the contract for the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine. In 1956 he was named Executive Director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy, the only joint congressional body in modern history to wield legislative authority. President John Kennedy appointed Jim to the AEC in 1962, where he served as Commissioner until 1973, making historic contributions to nuclear safety policy. Upon retirement from federal office he served as a Vice President of Stone & Webster. Jim loved natural beauty-he was an ardent fisherman, an award-winning horticulturist of roses and camellias, and an outstanding golfer, with a lifetime tally of five holes-in-one. Memorial service TBA. The family asks that in lieu of flowers any donations be made in his name to the Association for Women in Science, 1442 Duke St. Alexandria, VA 22314, which his wife co-founded.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 1, 2010
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