Roy Daniel Ramey
April 1, 1953 ~ March 12, 2023
Roy "Dan" Ramey was known and loved in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities for his endless outpouring of love and care for those in the world who were disadvantaged. Dan advocated for prisoners, for poor persons, for homeless persons, and for any person who was lacking, or had needs in the community. No one knew Middle Tennessee area resources better than Dan. Millions would testify to this fact. Dan is especially loved for and will be remembered for the way he publicly and proudly fought for AIDS victims in the 1980's, and for the continued research into defeating that horrible condition. His heart shines down on us even now as he sees his early life's work come near to fruition, as AIDS is now a condition within which patients' can and do live full, wonderful lives. Tens of millions of people thank him for that result, which was born of his efforts and of those few in the world like him. As a personal tribute I speak now publicly for the first time ever about an event in my own life that demonstrates the kindness that lived within him: I was imprisoned in the 1990's for serious crimes. They were the sort of crimes that didn't mean life sentence, or anything like that. But it was still serious, and I was there properly. After a few years of typical prison struggle, I met Dan Ramey, who was working at the prison, assisting the teacher in the education department, where I also worked (inmate job). Rules were very strict regarding what sort of textbooks could be used, that they had to be directly from publisher, under a certain size, etc. (All prison safety stuff). So, it was very difficult to get larger books or used books at all. So, I was lucky enough to have had some organizations pay for college classes for me inside the prison, which was fantastic! Dan helped me get all the paperwork set up and kept an eye on the paperwork etc. All a part of his job. By this time, we had developed a lovely and productive teacher/student process, and we became friends. Over the next few years, I was lucky enough to continue taking college classes to get my life turned around when I was released. It was during this period when prison rules changed about college classes and books. No more books and classes via the prison. I was only 1 class away from being awarded my first college degree, and that class was a requirement. Another problem: there were not any available from any publisher, and the book was large and heavy. It was the Full and Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 2000 pages, hardback. Huge. There was no way we could get that book inside the prison. And the words were so small on the pages, Dan making daily photocopies of my required pages just wasn't legible. We tried that route for a couple of months. Prison light is bad to start with. So, I just made peace with the idea that I'd just have to pray for release, and that I would be able to finish my college on the outside. Adapt and move on. It hurt because I had such positive momentum going, and I would lose my professors, and so on. In the grand scheme of things, it shouldn't have been so devastating in that context. But I had been working so hard and so steady through so much crazy adversity that this just crushed me. Deflated is probably a better word. One day a week or so later, I walk into the student classroom area, and Dan motions for me to come over near his desk. I see paperwork on his desk for me, which (given the recent past weeks) I was just signing some acknowledgement that I understand I'm losing my tuition, credits, graduation and so on. But it wasn't that. As I read it, they were the proctor forms with which I was very familiar. These are like chain of custody forms that the teacher fills out, essentially promising to proctor the final exam, which would take place after I finished the course. Serious business. They have to swear an oath and everything. So, I obviously asked Dan what were these for, since I can't take the class? With that silly grin and laugh we all came to know and love; he pointed across the little office to a small bookshelf with one big black book lying atop it. It was the book I needed to finish. I couldn't believe my eyes. And then the tears started to flow. It was absolutely against the rules for him to bring this book in for me, and I'll never betray how he actually got the book inside the fence, because that is and will remain between us. But I'll tell you this: It could have cost him his job, his career, his reputation, everything. But yet he saw some sort of a light in me that was dimming, dying, due to circumstances. But Dan found a way to keep that light alive. And what an amazing perceptive vision he had. I went on to be released, earn a college degree, and a doctorate degree, and have a wonderful, amazing life, that has produced wonderful children, all of whom Dan came to know and also love. I'll be forever in his loving debt, as will my children. His life was one of service and love. And as the friend who he saved in more ways than one so many years ago, it's my time to serve him, and keep his memory alive in hopes that we can all be a little kinder. Like Dan. Dan had no children but is dearly missed by the children and adults of his Nashville area extended family. Dan is also beloved of and missed terribly by his South Carolina family as well, which consists of his sister-in-law Sheila, and his niece and nephew Anne Marie and Michaeal, along with their extended loved ones. There will be a small memorial service that will take place at Radnor Lake State Park in the coming weeks. Please reach out to me via text if you're interested in coming by, and I'll tell you the date and time. Won't be too long or heavy, I'll say a few words, and then my sons Ben and Max and I will climb the tallest ridge in the park and leave Dan up there where he loved so much to be. Anyone who wants to come up, can. You'll rest near your Eagles now my friend. We all love and miss you so much.