Jon Ramsey
Jon Ramsey

Jon Ramsey, age 77, passed away peacefully at home in Goleta, California, on March 9, 2019. Jon was born on Feb. 24, 1942, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Frederick and Miriam Ramsey.  He grew up in Gates Mills, Ohio, where he attended University School.

Jon was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2016. He faced this diagnosis and ensuing three-plus years with the same style and grace that he exhibited every day of his life, and until his last breath was a thoughtful, kind, generous, optimistic, intellectually curious, and loving husband, father, and friend. 

Jon was a gentle man with a gentle soul, and a deep love for the written and spoken word, whose most cherished goal in life was to be a generous, spirited person who always wanted to improve the lives of people in his “little corner of the world.”

Jon received his B.A. (English, history, and pre-med studies) from San Diego State College/University in 1965, his M.A. (English) from University of California, Riverside in 1966, and Ph.D from University of California, Riverside (Romantic, Victorian, and early-modern British literature) in 1972.

He began his teaching career as teaching assistant at UC Riverside (1965-67), and then at UCSB (1969-76) first as acting assistant professor of English, then assistant professor of English.

He found teaching at UCSB rewarding, and made many life-long friends during these years, but also often referred to the period as a “tumultuous time,” with student protests on campus and a massive oil spill threatening the beaches.

Jon accepted positions of assistant professor of English (1977-81) and associate professor of English (1981-2004) at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he taught introductions to English literature, poetry and fiction, as well as Romantic and American literature, depictions of childhood in literature, Franz Kafka, William Blake, the grotesque in literature, and Edgar Allan Poe.

In 1980, he organized the national symposium With Corroding Fires: William Blake as Poet, Printmaker and Painter, hosted by Skidmore College and Union College. He created and taught in Skidmore College’s London Program for Juniors (spring 1997) and London Program for Freshmen (fall 2002).

In his final year at Skidmore, Jon taught the Honors Forum senior seminar: Research Writing and Epistemologies Across the Disciplines.

Jon became interested in administration and was appointed associate dean of students and director of student academic affairs at Skidmore College (1981-94) and coordinator of winter term (1981-85).

As dean of studies and associate dean of students at Skidmore College (1994-2004), he also served as director of academic advising, director of internships, and director of Skidmore London Programs.

During his 27 years at Skidmore, Jon was instrumental in the creation and implementation of numerous guidelines, policies and programs, including Classroom Protocols, the Office of International Programs, and the Honors Forum.

The annual Honors Forum Lecture, launched in 1999, was renamed the Jon Ramsey Honors Forum Lecture upon his retirement.

From 1981-2004, Jon served on the advisory boards of Beaver College/Arcadia College Programs Abroad and Butler University Programs Abroad and was a member and frequent contributor to the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

He also served on the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) Academic Council (1997-2000) and as U.S. advisor to the Advanced Studies in England (Bath) (2001-04).

Upon retirement from Skidmore College, Jon and his wife Kitty moved to Santa Barbara, CA. Retirement never took hold and from 2005-06, he served as director of Policy, Publications, and Analysis in the Graduate Division of UCSB.

In the fall of 2006, he returned to teaching as lecturer in the Writing Program at UCSB, where he taught, until his retirement in 2014, courses in first-year and sophomore-level composition, advanced composition, business writing, and writing for the humanities.

He also organized and led numerous faculty panels on a variety of pedagogical topics.

During Jon’s career, he published numerous articles and book chapters (William Wordsworth, Ernest Dowson, student plagiarism) and co-edited two books on literature, writing and administrative issues, authored many academic papers, and participated in panels, exhibitions and presentations on behalf of Skidmore College, UCSB and IES.

Upon retirement, Jon wrote the undergraduate textbook Business Writing Scenarios: Writing from the Inside, published by Bedford/St. Martin’s (2016).

Jon is survived by his loving partner in life and wife of 30 years Kitty; his beloved daughters Kathy and Alison; sons-in-law Andrew and Jason; granddaughter Martha; brother and sister-in-law Ted and Jean Ramsey; and extended family who, though separated by geographical distance, remained dear to his heart.

Jon was predeceased by his parents Frederick and Miriam Ramsey; his sister Judy; and his former wife, and mother of his daughters, Martha Neal-Brown.

The family wishes to thank the many doctors, nurses, aides, staff members and volunteers of The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, Sansum Clinic, Cottage Hospital, Assisted Hospice Care, and Hospice of Santa Barbara for their professional and compassionate assistance in caring for our beloved Jon.

We extend heartfelt thanks, as well, to our many friends and neighbors who provided much needed comfort and support.

Burial will be private at the convenience of family. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6, in the Lounge Room of the Encina Royale Clubhouse, 250 Moreton Bay Lane, Goleta.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jon’s name to one of the following organizations dear to Jon’s heart:

ASAP Cat Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road, Goleta, CA 93111; KCET public television (; Assisted Hospice Care, 302 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103; Hospice of Santa Barbara, 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Ste. 100, Santa Barbara, CA 93103.

— Kitty Ramsey