NORTH BROOK, N.C.––John Clinton Ramsey lost his home and everything he had in a Wednesday morning house fire.
But the 82-year-old military veteran and North Brook resident was unharmed, according to daughter Ramona Ramsey of Lincolnton. Speaking Friday morning, Miss Ramsey said that mercifully, her father didn’t even suffer any smoke inhalation. He managed to get out in time and make it to the nearby home of Renée Ramsey Carpenter, also his daughter.
Miss Ramsey said her father’s home was built just after World War II. Her late maternal grandfather, lumberman Charlie Leatherman, cut the knotty-pine lumber for the house and built it with loving care and special attention to detail.
But now it’s all gone, the house and all its contents a total write-off. Inside the home were countless watercolor and oil paintings by Mr. Ramsey’s talented late wife, Peggy Leatherman Ramsey. Miss Ramsey said her mother, quite a gifted painter, passed away from breast cancer some 20 years ago. And now all those marvellous paintings are no more.
But through her tears, Miss Ramsey was philosophical about this loss.
“That’s just stuff,” she quietly observed. “The first thing Mom would’ve asked would be, ‘Did you get your dad out?’ And he did get out, and he’s OK. That’s all that matters.”
Mr. Ramsey is a creature of habit, his daughter added with a chuckle. At about 7:45 Wednesday morning, he was asleep on his living room sofa. He slept with his shoes on, as is his wont. And that eccentric habit served him well indeed; when the smoke woke him up and set him to coughing, he was able to readily dash out. The entire house was filled with smoke. But Mr. Ramsey made it over to his daughter’s home and to safety.
Later checked by paramedics for smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, Mr. Ramsey was given the all-clear. Miss Ramsey added that the fire was evidently caused by a short in a light fixture in a back bedroom.
Looking back on this horrific experience just passed, a truly close call indeed, she remained upbeat.
“This is going to be life-changing,” she remarked, “and in a positive way.”
On behalf of her father and the whole Ramsey family, Miss Ramsey expressed profound and heartfelt gratitude to the nearby Crouse community.
“The whole Crouse community has just wrapped its arms around all of us,” she said. “How good everybody has been to us and to him!”
She thanked Rev. Jim Sanders and the members of Crouse United Methodist Church for their generosity. Members of CUMC showed up at Miss Ramsey’s workplace Thursday with enough money to buy her dad a whole new wardrobe.
“That meant a lot,” she said. “Most all of Daddy’s needs have been met now.”
They also thank the members of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and Pastor Rosa Erickson who have been extremely supportive of the family.
Mr. Ramsey doesn’t drive, she added, and he is staying for now at various places, including at the homes of his daughters and other family members. Plans are afoot to get him a new home, as Miss Ramsey informed. Look for more on this in an upcoming edition of the Lincoln Herald.
And to those with elderly parents or grandparents, Miss Ramsey offered a strong caution. Her father, she noted sadly, had no homeowner’s insurance. He let it lapse, as so many older people do.
Make sure, she said, that your parents and grandparents have their homeowners’ insurance and are continuing to pay it.
“A lot of elderly people don’t do that,” she said, “and their families don’t know about it until it’s needed.”
Still, in spite of everything, the Ramseys’ story is one of thanks.
“Our family is so grateful,” she said. “There are not enough words to thank people for the outpouring of kindness we have seen. Sometimes, we don’t even know who they are. But we are so deeply grateful to all of them.”
Want to help Mr. Ramsey? A “Go Fund Me” account has been set up: http://www.gofundme.com/rdux2g.
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