RAMEY, JR., ROBERT ANCEL
Robert 'Bob' A. Ramey, Jr. passed away at Harbor Chase of Gainesville Saturday March 7, 2015 of natural causes. He was born on December 14, 1918 in Wayne, West Virginia, the son of Robert A. Ramey, Sr. (1887-1970) a jeweler, and Cora Belle Ramey, nee Simpkins (1896-1964), a home maker. In 1943 Bob married the love of his life, the industrial designer Mildred 'Millie' E. Beam. They had one child, the forensic anthropologist and educator Dr. Karen Ramey 'Kar' Burns (1947-2012). Bob is survived by his wife Millie, his grand-children Tasha Snedaker (Austin, TX), Lara Burns Haynes (and her husband Sven Haynes, Salt Lake City, UT), Alexander Burns (Groton, CT), and two great-grand-children, Ava Burns LaPerle and Armin Burns Haynes (both in Salt Lake City, UT), as well as Bob's nephew Charles T. Cadieux (and his wife Sue, Irvine, CA), and his niece Bonnie M. Johnson (New Whiteland, IN).
During the 1920s Bob's family lived in Wayne but when the Great Depression hit they had to downsize to a small farmstead outside of town where he and his brother (James) Mandel (1920-1996) would do chores cutting down trees and making firewood. It was during one of these wood-cutting sessions on a hillside in the mountains-with his brother on the other end of a long cross-cut saw-that Bob determined to focus his future life on higher education.
Coming out of the Great Depression Bob wanted to have as little competition in his professional life as possible. Arriving at the University of Cincinnati cooperative program, he asked his adviser what would be the toughest engineering course he could possibly take? The answer was: electrical engineering. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree-a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1943. He continued with a Master of Science in Engineering (1945), and finally a Doctorate of Science in Physics (1948), all from the University of Cincinnati.
Between 1943 and 1949, when Bob was working on his doctorate at the University of Cincinnati, he collaborated with other researchers on projects of vital importance to the nation in Washington, DC. (his doctoral dissertation was classified as he was typing the pages). One of these projects was his invention of the electromagnetic underwater log which was kept secret during the war years, and only patented publicly in 1956 (US patent US3110876 A). The invention is, effectively, a speedometer for ships. Today there is almost no major sea-going vessel plying the oceans without this device.
During the late 1940s Bob also held various positions at Westinghouse Electric Corporation including Director of the Corporate New Products Laboratories, and Manager of the New Products Task Force. While at Westinghouse he designed, under the supervision of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the control systems for the reactor of the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. In 1955 he held the Webster Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Between 1949 and 1952 Bob worked at the Naval Research Laboratories in Washington, D.C. where he was head of the Electro-magnetic Components Section. In the 1960s Bob and Millie moved to Gainesville where he began his career as an academic at the University of Florida. He and Millie designed and built a round house on the northwest edge of Gainesville. Initially they thought of the house as a prototype for a highly efficient dwelling that would coast without air-conditioning through the hot hours of the day, but they were too far ahead of their time, and in the end the house served them as a prominent base for entertaining friends and living in a highly unique residence. For 29 years he and Millie pulled a 31-foot Airstream travel trailer to campsites from Canada to Central America. In later years they shifted from driving themselves to traveling by ship and airplane around the world.
In 1982 Bob retired from the University of Florida where he had served as Professor of Electrical Engineering, Professor of Computer and Information science, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, Associate Director of the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station, Founding Chairman of the Computer and Information Science Department, Chairman of the Engineering Technology Department, and Director of Florida's State Technology Application Center. He was vice chairman of Florida's High Technology Innovation Research & Development Board, Consultant to the National Science Foundation, past President of the Gainesville Area Innovation Network and Advisor to a venture capital firm. He was also National Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Federal Laboratory Consortium.
While Bob had many accomplishments to look back on in his life, the one he most cherished was an award he received from the Minority Student Association at the University of Florida for substantially increasing minority student enrollment at the university.
Over his long life he belonged to the following organizations and societies: Institute of Radio Engineers (Fellow), American Institute of Electrical Engineers (Member), IRE Awards Committee (Member), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (Fellow), Electrochemical Society (Member), Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, IEEE.
A memorial/celebration-of-life service will be announced at a later date. Please visit his memorial page at www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com
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