Pierce T. Ramsey Sr., 93, of Wynnefield, a flight officer with the famed Tuskegee Airmen at the end of World War II who later founded his own real estate company, died Saturday, June 15, at Centennial Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in West Philadelphia.
Known as “Ted,” Mr. Ramsey was born to William and Hazel Townsend Ramsey and grew up in West Philadelphia. He attended Overbrook High School and graduated from Temple University High School, and later received certificates in accounting and finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ramsey interrupted his schooling to join the Army Air Force. He qualified to train on a B-25 twin-engine light bomber at Moton Field at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Although he completed the training with the rank of flight officer in 1945 and stood ready to serve, he never flew in combat.
His service with the Tuskegee Airmen, whose exploits were chronicled in the 2012 war movie Red Tails, concluded with the bombing of Hiroshima and the end of World War II.
One of his last duties was to fly his plane, the "D’Lois,” to Iowa, where it was to be recycled. “He remembered saluting with tears in his eyes as his plane rolled down the tarmac for dismantlement,” his family said.
Mr. Ramsey served as an early president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen and helped to initiate fundraising projects. His family said he was proud to be among the Tuskegee Airmen who received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush on March 30, 2007, in Washington.
His career began as a trainee in the Roberts Real Estate Co. in West Philadelphia, where he worked for several years before earning a real estate license. In the 1950s, he opened Ramsey Real Estate at his own home and office building in West Philadelphia. The firm sold residential properties for many years.
Mr. Ramsey served as president of the Realtist Association of Philadelphia, a professional group that formed because African Americans were barred from membership in real estate organizations in the 1950s and 1960s.
In later years, Mr. Ramsey sold commercial properties as a broker for Corporate Realty Partners in Philadelphia before retiring in the mid-2000s.
Mr. Ramsey was a member of several social groups, including the Commissioners, a club co-founded by his father. He was also a founding member of the Del Val Golf Club and a member of the Men’s Social Club.
He married Harriett Vaughter Ramsey. They had two sons before divorcing. She is deceased.
In 1985, he married Ruth Scarborough Ramsey, and they enjoyed entertaining at their homes in Philadelphia and the New Jersey Shore.
“He was an American hero and a real cool guy,” she said. “He was debonnaire, loquacious, and a man about town.”
In retirement, Mr. Ramsey mentored those who aspired to a career in real estate. He also enjoyed speaking with young people about aviation.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Brian; a granddaughter; and nieces and nephews. Another son, Theodore Jr., died earlier.