Robert Lyle Ramsey
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1923 - 2012
Robert Lyle Ramsey, 89, died peacefully on August 1, 2012, at Norwalk Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Wanda Galezowska Ramsey, as well as a brother, Ray. He is survived by another brother, Earl; his son Gregory and daughter -in-law Nellie Weston of Manhattan; daughter Katia Ramsey Read and son-in-law Howard Read of Manhattan; granddaughters Georgia Ramsey Read and Claire Elizabeth Read; and a niece, Linda Rae Ramsey.
For almost six decades, Robert and Wanda lived together in Norwalk, CT, in a contemporary house built from a mail-order kit that they transformed into a beautiful home, unifying Wanda's Parisian French world with Robert's theatrical and design knowledge. It was full of artwork created by family members, friends and artists, and was often the locus of large, spirited holiday gatherings. It was also a long way from where his life began.
Born on April 8, 1923, to the late Clyde and Linda Marsh Ramsey, Mr. Ramsey grew up in a gaslit farmhouse in Gilbert, Arizona, where the family business was ranching and farming.
At Arizona State University, he majored in English and minored in language until the attack on Pearl Harbor, when he enlisted in the army and became a sergeant for the duration of the war. After the war, he moved to New York City and followed his passion for theater by enrolling in the drama department at The New School for Social Research. In 1946, he and his classmate Al Hurwitz took over the Cherry Lane Theatre on Barrow Street in Manhattan, directing, designing and producing shows. Brooks Atkinson, then a drama critic for The New York Times, gave their first production a rave review - it was Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit. Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Hurwitz went on to produce a series of plays from William Shakespeare's Henry VI to Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock.
In the 1960s, he launched a film career that would span more than 40 years. Mr. Ramsey designed and art directed sets for talk shows, commercials and TV series, winning many awards. During Lyndon Baines Johnson's presidency, he was honored as a set designer at the White House.
Mr. Ramsey was an active member of Preserve the Wetlands in Norwalk in the 1970s and '80s, spearheading its successful effort to stop the development of a major thoroughfare through local wetlands.
With his creative force and wry sense of humor, he was an extraordinary parent, grandparent and friend. He and his wonderful wife Wanda created a world with beautiful memories for those who knew them.
A private service for family and friends will be held in September. Online condolences can be sent to the family at email@example.com
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Westport Country Playhouse, www.westportplayhouse.org
Published in The Hour on August 12, 2012