Garrard S. Buster Ramsey

Signal Mountain, Tennessee

Mar 16, 1920 – Sep 16, 2007 (Age 87)


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McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home Inc Obituary

Football great Garrard S. “Buster” Ramsey, age 87, passed away Sunday, September 16, 2007, at Alexian Village, Signal Mountain, TN. Buster was born in Walland, TN to Rose and Will Ramsey and grew up in Knoxville. He attended the old Knoxville High School where he was an All-Southern High School football player leading the school to the 1937 National High School Championship. Buster was a 1942 graduate of the College of William and Mary. There, he became the first All-American football player in the history of the school. In 1978, he was elected to the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. Additionally, he was elected to the Knoxville, Blount County, State of Tennessee, William and Mary and the Commonwealth of Virginia Halls of Fame. After college, Buster served as a Chief Petty Officer in the U. S. Navy during WWII. He was a drill instructor and played football on the undefeated and unscored upon Bainbridge Naval team. He was elected to the All-Service team in 1943 and 1944. A protégé of NFL founders Jimmy Conzelman and Curly Lambeau, Buster then had a twenty year career as a player and coach. He played for the old Chicago Cardinals and was named to the 1947, 1948, and 1949 All-Pro teams as a two-way player. Named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1940s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ramsey was also named one of the three hundred greatest players in the history of the sport in 1997. His Cardinal team won the NFL Championship in 1947 and was runner-up in the famous snow bowl in 1948. In 1952, Ramsey joined the Detroit Lions as head defensive coach. He was instrumental in the development of the 4-3 defense and was the first coach to blitz linebackers, calling it the Red Dog. During his tenure with the Lions, the team won four divisional championships and three world championships. Three of his defensive stars were eventually elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1959, he was named the first head coach of the Buffalo Bills in the newly formed American Football League. Buster coached five more years, completing his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1965. Buster then followed his dream of retiring by moving to his beloved farm in the East Tennessee foothills. Ramsey and his wife of 25 years, the late Betsy Lee Hooper, their 2 sons and one daughter soon had an active farm life with championship Charolais cattle. Buster enjoyed the bounty of his gardens and a diverse collection of farm animals. He was particularly fascinated with bird life. Active in local community affairs, Buster served on the Blount County School Board and was a County Commissioner. He also started the A&W Root Beer drive-in restaurant which was highly successful in the late 60's in Maryville. Late in his life, he simply enjoyed the splendor and beauty of his surroundings and had a deep appreciation for the Smoky Mountains he viewed from his back porch. Mr. Ramsey is survived by his three children: Gary Ramsey and his wife Anne of Signal Mountain, TN; Beth Wilkinson and her husband Bob of Ypsilanti, MI; Bill Ramsey and his wife Shellie of Ringgold, GA; five grandchildren, Gary Ramsey and his wife Emily of Chattanooga, TN; Brian Ramsey and his wife Jennifer of Ooltewah, TN; Stephen Ramsey of Signal Mountain, TN; Will Ramsey and Laura Ramsey of Ringgold, GA. The family greatly appreciates the care and attention that Buster received from the 6th floor staff of Alexian Healthcare Center in Signal Mountain. Graveside funeral services will be held at Grandview Cemetery, Maryville, TN, Saturday, September 22, at 12:30 p.m. The family will receive friends from 10-12:00 noon Saturday at McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Blount County Children’s Home, 903 McCammon Avenue, Maryville, TN 37801 and Friends of the Smokies, P. O. Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764. McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home, Maryville, TN (865) 982-6812

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