Hall Of Fame Coach & Former Heat Announcer Jack Ramsay Dies At 89
Exclusive: Widow Wants Answers After Husband's Gravestone DisappearsMIAMI (CBS4) - A Miami-Dade woman who had planned a special visit to her husband’s gravesite on Valentine’s Day says she made a truly disturbing discovery: her husband’s gravestone was missing and she wondered if his body was still there. “I was devastated,” said Joyce Gary in a CBS4 Exclusive. “I couldn’t imagine something like that would happen.” Gary told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Valentine’s Day was going to a special day. She had planned a visit to her husband’s gravesite with her son. Gary had been visiting the gravesite at Dade Memorial Park at Northwest 13th Avenue and Opa-Locka Boulevard for the past four years since her husband died at the age of 62. “It just should not happen,” she said. This should not happen to anyone. It’s devastating. The pain you go through when you lose a loved one is enough and all of a sudden you go to the cemetery and find that your loved one is not buried there. It’s devastating.” “I came here with my son who lives in Tampa. His name is Jordan,” she said. “We came here to place flowers on his grave and when I came here the marker was no longer in the place where he was buried.” She spoke to the cemetery managers. “They’re telling me the marker was in the wrong place for four years,” she said. “So in other words we’ve been coming to the wrong place. My husband was buried somewhere else, which is right next to where the marker was placed.” She says she was told he was buried in the plot to the left of where she thought he was. “I’m not so sure about that,” she said, “because I was lead to believe that he was buried in this place.” Gary last visited her husband’s gravesite in late summer. On Valentine’s Day, she discovered new sod at the site because another person had been buried there. So there is now a marker for someone else. A spokeswoman for the cemetery’s corporate office told D’Oench that out of respect for the privacy of families they serve, she could not answer specific questions. But she said, “We have strict policies and procedures in place. And our associates undergo thorough training to ensure that mistakes are not made. However, occasional mistakes do happen and when that occurs, we have a policy of disclosure to the family and we work with the families to come to a resolution.” Gary says the cemetery told her that she was sent a letter last September about the situation but says she never received it. The corporation could not show us the letter. “What’s important is that you should really come to the cemetery often to visit your loved ones,” Gary said. “That’s very important and also, that cemeteries should not conduct business in that manner. I should have been notified when they decided to move my husband’s marker.” Gary told D’Oench that she and her husband had been married for more than 30 years. D’Oench reported that she was so upset that she nearly fainted during the interview and actually had to leave the cemetery because she was feeling ill. Right now, she says she just wants to sort this out and see that her husband’s gravestone is in the proper spot.
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Hall of Fame coach and one of the NBA’s most respected broadcasters Jack Ramsay died at 89 following a long battle with cancer.
Ramsay’s death was announced by ESPN.
“Dr. Jack Ramsay has passed,” ESPN spokesman Chris LaPlaca wrote on Twitter early Monday. “A rare man. Loved and respected by all. Fascinating life well lived. An inspiration to so many.”
Ramsy led the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship before his career in broadcasting—which included 8 seasons of Heat television broadcast.
“He’s probably forgotten more about the game than I know,” Miami Heat coach and president Pat Riley once said of Ramsay, whom he counted as a close friend.
Ramsay coached in the NBA for parts of 21 seasons before embarking on a second career as an NBA analyst. He was diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 and later battled growths and tumors that spread to his legs, lungs and brain, then later fought prostate cancer and most recently a marrow syndrome.
His affinity for fitness never wavered, though. Ramsay, who competed in at least 20 triathlons during his life, worked out regularly into his 80s, even as he battled the various forms of cancer that he was stricken with. He often spoke of his love of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico near his home in Naples, Fla., or jogging in a pool or from wall to wall in his hotel room when he was traveling on NBA assignments.
Ramsay also spent several years late in life caring for his wife, Jean, who was diagnosed in 2001 with Alzheimer’s disease. She died in January 2010.
Ramsay had enormous popularity within the league, even until the final stages of his life. To commemorate Ramsay’s 89th birthday earlier this year, Portland coach Terry Stotts wore a loud checkered jacket and open-collared shirt for a Blazers’ game — a nod to how Ramsay dressed when he coached the club.
“Jack’s life is a beacon which guides us all,” Bill Walton, who was on Ramsay’s 1977 title team in Portland, told USA Today in 2007. “He is our moral compass, our spiritual inspiration. He represents the conquest of substance over hype. He is a true saint of circumstance.”
John T. Ramsay was born Feb. 21, 1925, in Philadelphia and enrolled at Saint Joseph’s in 1942, eventually becoming captain of the basketball team there for his senior season. He earned a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, explaining the “Dr. Jack” moniker that most players and fans simply knew him by.
Ramsay’s biggest impact on Hawk Hill would be when he started coaching his alma mater in 1955. He was wildly successful there, going 234-72 and taking the Hawks to the NCAA tournament seven times, the Final Four in 1961 and to a No. 1 preseason ranking by Sports Illustrated in 1965.
To Ramsay, the most significant part of the Saint Joseph’s years was this: “I met my wife there,” he said.
He was a founding father of sorts for the growth of “Big 5” basketball, which is what the annual series between Philadelphia-area schools Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, Penn, Villanova and Temple was dubbed.
“I felt a lot of personal pride and interest in the outcome of those games,” Ramsay told the AP in 2004. “There wasn’t as much interest in conference play. There wasn’t the impact of a national championship or conference championships like there is today. The Big 5 was clearly the biggest thing any of those schools were involved in at that point.”
Ramsay took over as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1968, moved on to the Buffalo Braves in 1972 and took his craft to Portland in 1976 — where he took a team with stars like Walton and Maurice Lucas and delivered an NBA championship in his first season, beating the 76ers in six games in the final series.
“For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that I will cherish forever,” Ramsay in an 1997 interview.
Indeed, that was his lone NBA title. Walton got hurt the next year, crippling Portland’s chances of getting back to championship form during that era. Ramsay coached the Blazers for nine more seasons without another trip to the finals, and spent the final three years of his NBA sideline career in Indiana — resigning from the Pacers in November 1988 after the team got off to an 0-7 start.
Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career, being named one of the league’s Top 10 all-time coaches in 1996.
When he left the Pacers, Ramsay carefully did not use the word “retire,” and began working as a television analyst on 76ers games. Eventually, he worked on Heat television broadcasts for eight seasons before moving full-time to ESPN for radio and TV commentating before the 2000-01 season.
“So grateful that his path crossed ours,” his former Heat broadcast partner Eric Reid wrote on Twitter early Monday. “Hall of Fame coach and man.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)