Liston B. Ramsey, an influential state lawmaker, died on Sunday, September 2, at the age of 82.
Ramsey, a Democrat from Madison County, served as representative for all, or parts, of Madison, Haywood, Jackson, Swain and Graham counties, from 1961 to 2000, longer than anyone in state history.
He was also the only person to be elected to the position of speaker of the House of Representatives four times, a time period that spanned from 1981 to 1988.
Ramsey was a large contributor in the funding of Haywood and Southwestern Community Colleges, Western Carolina University, UNC – Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum, the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market and various different roads in the state.
“Although the family relationship with Mr. Liston Ramsey was a somewhat distant one (my father and Liston were second cousins), the Speaker’s support of Western Carolina University and his strong identity with Western North Carolina, particularly my native county of Madison, were of great significance to me,” said Harry E. Ramsey, who is the former assistant to the Chancellor for WCU programs in Asheville.
“As an alumnus of Western Carolina University and an employee of the institution for 34 years, I felt that Liston and I shared a fondness for the institution and its importance to the region,” Ramsey went on to say.
Mr. Ramsey concluded, saying that “when people inquire, as they often do, if I am related to the person in whose honor the Ramsey Regional Activities Center is named, I am pleased to say, not so much related as honored to have known him.”