from _PEOPLE
7 . "More from People online"
Posted by SpiritRain on Jan-23-00 at 07:51 AM (EST)
October 6, 1997
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In '80, Patsy (left) congratulated sis Pam on becoming a fellow Miss West Virginia
With broad strokes and a brilliant palette, Patsy's allies paint her as kinetic and magnetic, but for all his own achievements, her husband seems scarcely to cast a shadow. Most who know John Ramsey contend he's a modest and taciturn sort who tends to his business and spends leisure hours flying radio-controlled airplanes with Burke or sailing his 34-foot sloop, Miss America. Before his move to Boulder, he drove around Atlanta in a 15-year-old Chevy pickup. Says his brother Jeff: "He's not boastful." (Patsy, it seems, is more forthright. In her 1996 annual Christmas letter, she reported that Access Graphics had reached "its one-billion $$ mark in sales.") Says longtime friend and colleague Jim Marino: "I never saw him get mad. I never heard him cuss. I never saw him raise a hand to anybody."
Born in Omaha to James Ramsey, a decorated World War II pilot, and his homemaker wife, Mary Jane, John Bennett Ramsey was 13 when the family moved to Okemos, Mich., a rural suburb of Lansing, where his father served as director of Michigan's Aeronautics Commission. "We were a real Leave It to Beaver kind of family," says Jeff. At Okemos High School, John ran cross-country. It was a classic '50s milieu: bowling, movies and school dances. "John was very friendly," says retired Navy Capt. John Shick, a high school running teammate and later Ramsey's fraternity brother at Michigan State University. "I remember him as a person who didn't get excited." A quote under Ramsey's yearbook photo ("Some say he's quiet -- others doubt it") hints that even then, people didn't quite know what to make of his reserve.
Enrolling at Michigan State in 1961, Ramsey joined Theta Chi fraternity and met Lucinda Lou Pasch, an elementary education major. "She was a short, pretty brunette," says Shick, "and quiet." On July 16, 1966, after Ramsey graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, the couple married, then settled in East Lansing. Ramsey spent a couple of years in the Navy's engineering corps, some of it at Subic Bay in the Philippines, then earned a master's degree from Michigan State and settled in Atlanta.
The couple had three children -- Elizabeth, Melinda and John Andrew -- but their union foundered, and they divorced in 1978. The next year John started a small computer company. JimMarino worked for him, and in the evenings the two single men "played around," as Marino puts it. "We would go to bars and meet women," he says, adding that after Ramsey was engaged to Patsy, "I never saw him mess around."
About the time the Ramseys wed, John started Microsouth, a software distributor, which he ran from the basement of their suburban Atlanta home. (Patsy answered the phone.) He soon launched a second company, which marketed computer accessories, including printers, but the venture faltered. "Patsy had her father come down and basically save the company," Marino says of Don Paugh. The two companies ultimately merged into Access Graphics, where Paugh is now vice president of operations. As business took off in the 1980s, Patsy immersed herself in volunteer work for the local garden club, a tree festival and a children's hospital, among other charities -- and in perfecting their home. Ex-neighbor and longtime friend Vesta Taylor, 75, recalls that in the span of a week Patsy had her living room painted five times, in five varying shades. "She'd call me over at different times of the day, when the sun was coming in in a particular way," Taylor says, "and say, `Vesta, what do you think?' "
Thriving, the couple started a family. Son Burke was born in 1987, followed in 1990 by JonBenét. The next year John relocated his business to Boulder and moved the family to a 15-room faux Tudor home near the University of Colorado. Here, too, Patsy indulged her inner Bob Vila. "Friends said you got lost [in the house] because of the way she added on," says Taylor. "They said John couldn't find the bedroom. It was in the attic."
In Boulder the Ramsey fairy tale would begin to unravel. On Jan. 8, 1992, John's older daughter, Elizabeth, died from injuries suffered in an auto accident near Chicago. She was riding with her boyfriend Matthew Derrington, who was also killed, when his BMW collided with a van. "She was sweet and gentle, just like her daddy," says Shirley Brady, Burke's ex-nanny. Devastated, John Ramsey "became more introverted" after she died, according to Marino. "Work became his pacifier, his distractor."
In 1992, John's father died...

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