Former Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey spent years serving the area and state. (Photo: Staff)

Former Hamilton County Mayor and Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey—a 40-year public servant—died early Monday morning.

Ramsey served five terms as Hamilton County Mayor and then worked as Gov. Bill Haslam’s deputy governor before retiring in 2013.

Gov. Bill Haslam said that Tennessee has lost “one of its finest statesmen.”


“And Crissy and I have lost someone that we loved and admired,” he also said in a prepared statement. “Claude loved Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee and his service was always marked by a strong desire to do the right thing. He was also one of the most enjoyable people to work with that I have ever known.”

Haslam said he and his wife, Crissy, send love and sympathy to Ramsey’s wife and family.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Monday in a statement:

Hamilton County has suffered a tremendous loss this morning with the passing of Claude Ramsey.

Claude was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of Hamilton County.

As a member of Hamilton County’s first commission, as assessor and as Hamilton County Executive and Mayor, Claude Ramsey had the best interests of the people of this community in his heart.

Claude worked tirelessly to improve education and was at the forefront of making Hamilton County a manufacturing center again.

I greatly appreciate the assistance Claude gave to me, first as a commissioner and then as Hamilton County’s Mayor, Claude made my transition easy when he went to Nashville to serve as Governor Haslam’s Deputy Governor.

We will miss his wisdom, insight, kindness, humor and most of all friendship.

My thoughts and prayers are with Jan, his children and their grandchildren.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who was city mayor during Ramsey’s term, also sent out a statement.

Dedicated, prudent, humble, and wise. These are the leadership qualities with which Claude Ramsey led our county.

When I was elected mayor of Chattanooga, I had the privilege of becoming his partner, particularly as it related to economic development.

During that time, I especially loved our early morning phone calls to discuss how to execute our community’s shared vision.

I spoke with him again by phone last Thursday and shared with him not only what an honor it was to work with him over the years but also how grateful I have been to call him a true friend. My heart goes out to Jan and the entire Ramsey family during this difficult time.

Mayor Andy Berke said in a prepared statement:

Claude Ramsey made economic development and education our priorities and put practicality over partisanship. Even as they mourn him, I know his family will be proud of his legacy.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said in a prepared statement:

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and mentor Claude Ramsey.

Across the state, Claude was known as a true civil servant beginning his career in 1972 when he was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly, to his incredible service to Tennessee’s 3rd district as mayor of Hamilton County among other roles, and statewide as deputy to the governor.

Claude was instrumental in the promotion of business in Tennessee using his expertise to form local, state, and federal partnerships that will continue to benefit our great state for years to come.

It was an honor and a pleasure to know Claude Ramsey, and there is no doubt that he will be missed dearly by many.

I send my condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.

State Sen. Bo Watson said in a prepared statement:

Claude Ramsey was a giant in the community. He was dedicated, passionate, tough and respected. Claude focused on results, and his record was legendary. He had a positive influence on all of us.

Much of the progress that we have made in Hamilton County is due to the unselfish work of Claude Ramsey. His contributions to our community are just immeasurable, including economic development with Volkswagen and the Read 20 literacy initiative.

He once told me, ‘Never forget to ask someone for their vote.’

Even though Claude was an incredible political force, he never took any election for granted. If people ran against him, he ran to win.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a prepared statement:

Claude Ramsey’s vision and leadership were crucial to bringing Volkswagen to Chattanooga. His strong character and sense of purpose served as a model for the rest of us in public life. Honey and I send to Jan and to their family our sympathy and respect for a life well lived.

Volkswagen Chattanooga sent out a statement, too. Ramsey was county mayor when Volkswagen announced it would locate here and played a part in drawing the international company to Chattanooga.

We were saddened to learn of the loss of our friend Claude Ramsey.Claude was one of our first friends in Tennessee. He was instrumental in bringing Volkswagen to Chattanooga and we considered him to be a part of our team.

On behalf of the Volkswagen Chattanooga family, we’d like extend our sincere condolences to the Ramsey family during this difficult time.

Former governor and current candidate for Corker’s seat, Phil Bredesen tweeted his thoughts, echoing the Volkswagen statement.

The Hamilton County Republican party sent out information Monday afternoon. The organization said Ramsey died after an extended illness and leaves a legacy throughout the state.

Claude Ramsey has served all of Hamilton County with distinction. His leadership as a Republican has been critical to the majorities held by our Party and the conservative growth in this area,” Hamilton County GOP Chairman Marsha Yessick said in a prepared statement.

The local GOP offers its sincerest prayers and condolences to Jan and the entire family with their loss. Claude Ramsey’s legacy will remain for generations as the foundation for our great community.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Heritage Funeral Home on East Brainerd Road.

Updated at 12:13 p.m. June 18 to add more information as it became available.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. June 18 to add more information as it became available.

Updated at 1:23 p.m. June 18 to add more information as it became available.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. June 18 to add more information as it became available.

Updated at 4:17 p.m. June 18 to add more information as it became available.