Griffith Ramey



103 years in Logan County

This year's Fair Board has chosen to honor Logan County's oldest resident 2007 Fair Marshall.

The following story was submitted by Laurence Ramey's family.

Laurence Ramey (front, center) on his 100th birthday,
with all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Griffith Ramey, former WRHS teacher, is in the top row, 2nd from the right

Laurence Ramey has 103 plus years of history in Logan County. The only time he has not lived here was from 1922 to 1924 when he attended the University of Colorado in 1922 -24.


William A. and Adella "DellaĒ Holden Ramey, came to Sterling in the 1880s. Della Holden came to Logan County from New York with her family. They homesteaded near Fleming in 1886. At the age of 16, she obtained a teaching certificate and taught school near Fleming.

William Ramey came with his family from West Virginia in 1885, with a promise of a homestead by both the U.S. government and the Union Pacific Railroad. They traveled by boxcar and landed in Kearney, Neb. In 1886, they moved to Iliff.

William taught school at Willard for a year. Della had moved to the Krackle School near Willard. The two young teachers met, and on June 8, 1893, they were married.


Laurence is the fourth of five sons of William and Della Holden Ramey. The others are: Raymond, Victor, Loyd and Paul Sr. Of the five, Victor, Raymond, Loyd and Laurence made their homes in Logan County. Paul attended the University of Colorado and became a physician and surgeon. He was in practice for most of his life in Temple, Texas.

At the time of Laurence's birth in 1903, William and Della were farming near Iliff on the sand hills east of the South Platte River. In 1908, they moved to Sterling so that the boys could attend a better school. Laurence attended Logan County High School and was on the football team.

The family lived on Pine Street, directly across the street from the high school. Since the high school did not have showers, after practice the football team made full use of the shower in the basement of the Ramey home.


One day in 1918, Laurence was sent to town to have some repairs done on a mower. When he arrived at the John Deere store, he had to wait a long time because a man with a big cigar, accompanied by a young girl was buying repair parts. The store personnel had to tie the part on to the man's car.

Laurence was intrigued by the store manager who they learned that it was George D and his daughter, Sarah. San lingered in his mind. When he entered Sterling High School two years later, there was Sarah in the class behind him. However, he was too shy to talk to her in high school.

During 1922-24, he attended the University of Colorado. He tried out for the football team, at 150 pounds, he just wasn't big enough.

Laurence and Sarah met again in the fall of his second year at Colorado University when he saw her sitting on the steps of Mackey Auditorium. They struck up a conversation, during which he learned that she didn't like college and thought her family couldn't afford it. She didnít return for the second quarter; Laurence didnít return to college for his third year.

In Sterling, he eventually worked up the nerve to ask her to the movies and soon found every excuse he could to drop by the shop where Sarah worked.

By the fall of 1926, he felt he was ready to take the big step. Mustering all the courage he had, he asked her father if they could get married. Her father approved, but Laurence failed to also ask Sarahís mother, Anna. Mrs. Dersham kidded him long afterwards about this "severe oversight."


On June 8, 1927, Laurence married Sarah Francis Dersham, on the anniversary date of his parents' wedding in 1893.

They had three children: Annabelle, born in 1928; Griffith, born in 1931; and Ronald, born in 1938.

Sarah Dersham and Laurence Ramey, June 8, 1927

Laurence farmed and raised cattle in the Iliff and Kelly area for years. He still owns several quarters of dry land wheat in the Kelly area. This dry land has a history of severe washing from heavy spring rains. Laurence terraced the land to prevent this washing. He was recognized as the USDA Outstanding Conservationist in Logan County sometime in the 1980s.

In 1937, after 27 hailstorms in nine years and the Great Depression still having its grip on the economy, he joined forces with his brothers, Raymond and Loyd, to open a petroleum business, Ramey Oil Co., which they operated for the next 15 years. This business was initially started as an automobile service station at Third and Oak streets in Sterling.

In 1949 Ramey Oil Co. secured the dealership of the Ferguson Ford Tractor, the first tractor with hydraulic lift to carry and power farm machinery. Later, the dealership for the New Holland hay baler, the first commercially viable machine of its type, was obtained.

Ramey Oil Co. Ford tractors with, from left:
Griff, Annabelle, Ron and Laurence Rameyabout 1942

The oil business gradually grew and delivery of oil, gasoline and diesel products to the surrounding farming community was begun. In the summer of 1945, Ramey Oil Co. built a larger building, just back of the Third Street service station and facing Oak Street to support the farm machinery business. This building still stands today.

In 1951, Ramey Oil Co. purchased 10 acres south of Sterling on U.S. Highway 6, next to Riverside Cemetery. A new service station was built on this property, as well as four apartments. The Skylark restaurant was added in 1955.

In 1953, the farm supply part of the business was sold to Lewis and Keith Ramey, who operated it as Ramey Farm Supply. The petroleum part was sold to Phillips Petroleum the same year.

In 1952, Laurence brought in the Ramey-Ragatz addition to the city of Sterling, which is roughly the area from Beattie Drive to Delmar Street from Eighth to Tenth avenues. One of the streets in that addition is named Holden Lane, named after Della Holden Ramey, Laurence's mother. In 1952, there was an oil boom in Logan County; which brought a housing shortage because of all the oil workers. Many of the lots in this addition were sold to an oil drilling company that built houses for its employees.

Sarah and Laurence built a new house in the Ramey-Ragatz addition in 1953-54 at 920 Beattie Drive. They took great joy in this house.

Sarah's flower garden of tulips, irises and roses was second to none. They resided in this house and spent many enjoyable years there.

In 1961-62 they jointly operated the Skylark Restaurant with son Griffith and his wife, Artis, on the Ramey Oil Co. property on U.S. 6.

Laurence and Sarah enjoyed traveling and fishing. They made a number of trips to Oregon to fish for salmon with Sarah's brother, George Dersham and his wife Minnie. They owned several different boats over the next several years and enjoyed boating and fishing on North Sterling Reservoir and at Blue Mesa near Gunnison.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Laurence was an active volunteer for Cooperating Ministry. In 1992, he was recognized as its outstanding volunteer.

In 1973, the Logan County High School classes of 1922 and 1923 held a combined 50th reunion. Tillie Krum Bach Lantz, a member of the Class of 1922, worked with Laurence, also a member of the Class of 1922, and Sarah, a member of the Class of 1923, to organize this event. Although Tillie, and Laurence both were members of the LCHS Class of 1922, their paths did not cross very much until they started working on this class reunion.

Upon completion of the two-class reunions, Tillie, Sarah and Laurence found that they had some money left over from the affair. They decided to donate it to the Colorado Boy's Ranch. Thus, after 50 years, Tillie's and Laurence's paths had started to cross a bit more.

On June 8, 1977, Sarah and Laurence celebrated their 50th, wedding anniversary. Sarah had suffered from cancer for several years. She lost her life as a result of cancer in February 1978.


After Sarahís death in 1978, Laurence and Tillie started playing cribbage and bridge together.

Tillie had previously married John Lantz in 1929. He died in 1950. They had two daughters: Jo Ellen, who was born in 1933 and died in 1948; and Jeni, who was born in 1937. Tillie and John were charter members of the Sterling Country Club.

Tillie and Laurence were married on May 26, 1979, at First Presbyterian Church in Sterling, with the full blessing of both families.

Tillie loved to play golf, which she continued to enjoy at the country club until just before her sudden death on Feb. 10, 1991, from a heart attack. She was also active on the country club board of directors.

Laurence and Sarah were both active in the First Presbyterian Church. Laurence joined the church in 1919, a year before the current church at 130 Fourth St. was built. Both he and Sarah served as elders and deacons. He is the oldest living member of this church.

Tillie was active in All Saints Episcopal Church in Sterling before her marriage to Laurence. She joined First Presbyterian Church just before their marriage.

Laurence is also a member of the Sterling Masonic Lodge, the Royal Arch Masons, the Knights Templar, Eastern Star and White Shrine. He received his Masonic Lodge 65-year pin in May 2007. Sarah was active in both Eastern Star, White Shrine, and was a Rainbow for Girls Mother Advisor for many years. Tillie joined Eastern Star after her marriage to Laurence.


In August 2002, at the Lions Club Cowboy Breakfast, Laurence was recognized as one of Logan County's Outstanding Pioneers.

In October 2003, Laurence celebrated his 100th birthday. An open house was held on Oct. 5, 2003, at the First Presbyterian Church. Many guests, friends and relatives shared this day with him. Joining him for this event were his daughter Annabelle and her husband, Arnold Fournier, of Englewood; sons Griffith and his wife, Artis, of Tempe, Ariz., and son Ronald of Milliken; and a stepdaughter, Jeni, and her husband, Ken Forbes, of Fort Collins.

Also joining him were: Griff and Artis' three children, Beth, Brian and Marla; Ronís two children, Cynthia and Laurence; and Jeni and Kenís three children, Kevin, Linda and John. There were also three great-grandchildren and four step-great-grand children.

Friends and relatives came from Anchorage, Alaska; the Phoenix area; Torrance, Calif.; Raleigh, N.C.; Albany, N.Y; Norfolk, Va.; Creswell, Ore.; Wimberley, Texas; Colorado Springs; the Denver and Front Range areas; Fort Collins; and the Sterling area.

Today, Laurence still resides in his house on Beattie Drive, through the help of a good caregiver on the weekdays, and his family, who are with him on most weekends. His health has deteriorated during the past few years, but he still looks forward to attending the senior Meet and Eat program at the Heritage Center each weekday.

On most afternoons, Laurence Ramey can be found at McDonaldís, where he meets and talks with friends over coffee.

This story was published in the Sterling Colorado JOURNAL-ADVOCATE, July 21, 2007.