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Sudden death of 41-year-old executive saddens friends, competitors

Advertising community mourns loss of Tommy Ramey

The advertising community in Mississippi was saddened and shocked when Thomas G. Ramey, president and CEO of The Ramey Agency, the second largest advertising agency in Mississippi, died unexpectedly last week at the age of 41.

In 1985, Ramey, of Brandon, established the Jackson-based advertising agency that grew to employ 60 professionals with offices in Ridgeland and Memphis. A graduate of Mississippi State University, Ramey was originally from Louisville, Ky.

In addition to countless awards and accolades, Ramey was well known for his community involvement in organizations that include Operation Shoestring and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Last year, Ramey established a corporate policy that provided employees an extra two-week paid leave of absence a year to volunteer in the community.

Danny Mitchell, chairman and CEO of The Godwin Group, said Ramey was a great competitor, but more than that, a great friend.

“We’re all deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news about Tommy’s death at such as young age,” said Mitchell. “We talked quite often about the advertising business. He was very in tune to the market. He was a person of vision who knew what he wanted and found the resources to accomplish that. One of his greatest gifts was the ability to build endearing, long-term relationships with clients and friends. That’s rare in this business.”

Jimmy Heidel, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, said, “Tommy Ramey was a longtime personal friend to Joanna and me, and we were deeply shocked and saddened by the news of his death. Professionally, Tommy’s ideas on how best to present Mississippi’s vast economic development potential to a worldwide audience helped shape the most successful advertising and marketing campaigns ever produced for the state of Mississippi. He certainly put Mississippi on the map in advertising circles with his agency’s outstanding work, which has won national an international acclaim – often in competition with much larger ad agencies.”

“We’ll miss his hands-on guidance and the special pride he took in the state of Mississippi segment of his agency’s work,” Heidel said.

David Kimball, president of Maris West & Baker, said most people “knew Tommy and I were competitors, but what most people don’t know is that Tommy and I were also very good friends. For the last two or three years, Tommy and I have had a steady lunch once a month at Amerigo’s. Sometimes, we’d talk about agencies and other times, we wouldn’t talk about them whatsoever.”

“When bidding competitively, Tommy and I saw eye to eye on how to work together in competitive situations and that’s important in this business,” Kimball said.

Even though advertising is a very competitive industry, the Jackson advertising community is a relatively close-knit one, said George A. Williams, president of G. Williams & Associates.

“While we may not have crossed paths daily, there was certainly a kinship and respect that exists among the agencies,” Williams said. “Tommy created a very successful advertising agency that is a force to be reckoned with. He knew what he wanted, and he achieved his goals. Tommy and I were personal friends and I am stunned and deeply saddened by his death. I learned of his illness last week prior to leaving town for nine days; unfortunately, I learned of his death while I was enroute back to Jackson.”

John Broderick of Broderick/Bates said Tommy Ramey was “making quite a mark and was in his prime. It was quite a tragedy.”

Denton Gibbes, senior vice president of The Ramey Agency, said “Tommy was a great businessman and built a very successful company. We will continue to build on what he wanted.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.


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