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Residents recall memories of Bruce Street barber
By:CRAIG MINTZ, Staff Writer March 02, 2005
SEVIERVILLE - A long-standing Bruce Street fixture died Saturday, leaving behind the family who loved him and generations of Sevier County residents who trusted him as their barber and friend.
James Allen Ramsey Sr., 82, known to everyone as Allen, died at University of Tennessee Medical Center after several months of battling with kidney complications, according to family members.
When he entered the hospital in December, Ramsey was just a few months short of barbering exactly 50 years in the same spot across from the old Sevierville post office. Lining the walls of his shop is a personal museum of family pictures and Sevier County life that brings an air of nostalgia to a place where locals have gone for years to get their hair cut.
Ramsey got his start in the spring of 1955 when Bat Gibson, who later became Sevier County sheriff, gave him a job.
"Everybody knows him," said Ramsey's son, Jim. "He loved his family, his friends. He was a good husband and good provider. He was a people person."
At age 6, Ramsey was one of nine children from a Greenbriar area family who moved to the New Era community because of the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As a young man, Ramsey began working at the former Sanson Hosiery Mill, where he met Katherine, his wife of 64 years.
At their home Monday, Katherine remembered the day she met the young man who would soon be drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in Hawaii and the South Pacific during World War II.
"I thought he was so happy and light-hearted," she said.
Katherine recounted how Allen told her when they got married that he only had $3 to his name.
"I thought, 'He's going to have to beat that,'" said Katherine with a laugh. Right beside the middle prong of the Little Pigeon River just off Pittman Center Road lies their home where he would do what he loved - garden. According to Jim, Ramsey had approximately 100 tomato plants last year alone. "He was known for his gardening as much as he was his barbering," he said. Several fellow barbers have partnered with Ramsey throughout the years including Bat Gibson, Charles Rainwater, Herb Flynn and current partner Jimmy Pickens. Ramsey was a member of First Baptist Church Sevierville, having formerly been a member of Zion Hill Baptist Church. Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Shiloh Cemetery with the Rev. Glenn Metts officiating. The family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. today at Atchley Funeral Home in Sevierville.
ŠThe Mountain Press 2006
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