Hugh Ragsdale Jr.
Hugh Ragsdale Jr.

Hugh Appleton Ragsdale Jr., 82, of Charlottesville, Virginia, passed away on November 7, 2020. Born on August 9, 1938, in Kinston, N.C., and raised in Richlands, N.C., Hugh was the son of the late Hugh Appleton Ragsdale and Annie Koonce (Sutton) Ragsdale.

Hugh was valedictorian of his class at Asheville School and a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina. He received his B.A. from Carolina and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. In the early-1960s, he married Kate Raney Webb of Greensboro, N.C., and settled in Tuscaloosa, Ala. For several decades he was Professor of History at the University of Alabama, specializing in Russian history and publishing numerous books and articles. He traveled often to Russia, studying at Moscow State University and the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow, and leading tours of Americans eager to understand the Soviet Union. He spoke fluent Russian and several other languages and taught himself to read 1-2 others to consume newspapers and archives.

More recently, he returned to Charlottesville, Va., where he served in various history/policy-related organizations, including the Committee on Foreign Relations, while continuing to pursue his research and writing.

Hugh threw a mean softball home from left field for the UA History Department team, drove his tennis opponents crazy with every kind of spin, swam frequently off the shore in Atlantic Beach, N.C. (or any ocean), tooled around Tuscaloosa for a time in a 1965-ish Carolina blue Austin Healey Sprite, and loved animals, especially a black and white pup named Ollie. He was rarely seen without 3-4 books at hand, and his shirt pocket always sported index cards and his trusty Parker ballpoint pen for reminders.

Hugh Ragsdale is survived by his sons, Hugh Appleton Ragsdale III (Alexa) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and James Webb Ragsdale (Jean-Marc) of Dubai, United Arab Emirates; his grandchildren, T.J. (Hugh IV), Sam, and Eliza; his brothers, Carl Ragsdale of Beaufort, N.C., and Mike Ragsdale of Morehead City, N.C.; and his former wife, Martha Nabers of Tuscaloosa, Al. Long-time caregiver Rick Martin has been a godsend to Hugh and his family.

A burial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, 2020, at Monticello Memory Gardens, in Charlottesville, Va.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (

Condolences may be sent to the family at

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Published by Daily Progress on Nov. 15, 2020.
Monticello Memory Gardens
, Charlottesville, Virginia
Funeral services provided by:
Hill & Wood - Charlottesville
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6 Entries
So sorry to learn of Hugh’s passing! My sincerest condolences to his brothers, Carl and Mike, and to his children!
Cecil Hargett
November 15, 2020
It was both a blessing and a privilege to be Hugh´s caregiver. He was my buddy, but Hugh was also my teacher, who´s lessons filled my heart with more empathy, love, and patience! He will always be in my heart.
Rick Martin
November 15, 2020
Hugh lived with us when he first moved to Charlottesville. He was such an interesting man. We had many delicious meals and lively conversations. I still remember him sitting at our picnic table reading and translating Pravda. Many happy memories. Our condolences to you and your family.
Sue and Steve Plaskon
November 15, 2020
My thoughts & prayers are with Terry, Jim, and all of Hugh’s loved ones at this time. Our parents had the UofA connection & lots of tennis! A few years of carpooling too. May you find comfort that he was well respected by many. -Missy Muir Brigance
Missy Muir Brigance
November 13, 2020
I had 3 classes with Dr. Ragsdale while at UA 1975-76 and was fortunate enough to be part of one of his group trips to Russia in January, 1976. He was a wonderful professor. My sincere condolences to his family.
Kathy Mathews
Kathy Mathews
November 13, 2020
As an African American student at the UA between 1967-71, I remember Dr. Ragsdale as being a wonderful professor. He was one of the few blessings for such a time. My sympathies to his family.

Irene (Isaac) Byrd
Tuscaloosa, AL
Irene Isaac Byrd
November 13, 2020