John Ronald Dean Ramsey
John Ramsey was first tenor in the Voice of Prophecy's King's Heralds quartet for twelve years, from 1971 to 1983. His voice was acclaimed for its range as well as its beauty and purity of sound.
John was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 16, 1947, the younger of two sons of Loren Harvey and Bernice Geraldine Tidwell Ramsey. His father sang in the church choir and his brother, Vernon Wayne, as a hobby, played keyboard and guitar with small bands in the evenings. Vernon eventually completed a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University and worked for Hughes Aircraft, NASA, and Boeing Military Airplane.
From his earliest years John was encouraged by musicians who were impressed by his natural talent, especially as his voice matured. He was urged by the organist in the Chattanooga SDA church, Louise Veazey, mother of then Quartet member Jack Veazey and known affectionately as 'Weazey' to be active in music at the church.
By the time he entered Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) he thought he was a baritone and in an initial meeting with his voice teacher, Stewart Crook, he told Crook he was a baritone, Crook laughed and informed him that he was really a tenor. In retrospect, Ramsey would later recall Crook as the person who taught him how to sing.
John met Linda Edgmon at SMC and they married in June 1968. They would have two children, Philip Wayne and Elizabeth Ann.
Fortuitously, Crook became the principal at Jefferson Academy in Texas in 1968 and when John graduated from SMC a year later, he was invited by his mentor to teach music and physics at the academy. In his two years at Jefferson, both Stewart and Ramsey worked extensively with John Thurber, a former VOP quartet singer who was then head of youth evangelism in the Texas Conference.
In 1971, in response to an opening in the VOP quartet when Bob Edwards retired, Thurber quietly contacted Jim McClintock, a member of the VOP quartet and told him "We have the replacement for Edwards here in Texas." He also sent a recording of Ramsey singing in a recent TV program.
Ramsey, unaware of Thurber's contact with the VOP, was surprised when Wayne Hooper called and invited him to come to California and audition for the quartet. While many were interested in the opening and had auditioned, Ramsey was chosen and by that summer was singing in the quartet and assisting with studio engineering.
Reflecting later about his experience in the quartet, Ramsey observed:
We spent so much time together, we were family and were like brothers. It was a unique time in the history of the quartet. More than in any other time, we traveled abroad. The prior groups traveled throughout the country, logging in many hours on the road which meant many tire changes, mechanical problems, and delays in travel.
One of my predecessors, Bob Seamount, was tecnically inclined and had facilitated those earlier road trips by repairing and caring for the equipment they used. He also had an aptitude for flying, and restoring and repairing planes, which became increasingly important as flying became a critical part of the quartet's travel and the church's mission work around the world.
During my time in the quartet [seventies and eighties], commercial air travel had become very reasonable and we traveled around the world, performing in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and many other places. We were also able to sing in places that before this were not possible. We would land in a small mission plane on abandoned airstrips in the Pacific, be picked up by locals in dugout canoes, and perform at small islands in the area. We would sing and then later we would hear impromptu quartets singing who had been inspired by our performance.
Seamount was a genius in finding and creating recording equipment for the broadcast from its earliest days. After arriving in Glendale, I assisted then engineer, Eddie Pullen, and learned a lot that would help me in my work with the quartet's equipment.
My duties included editing the tapes that we recorded and used in the studio as well as the record albums that were produced. I also built and repaired equipment that we used in the studio, for broadcast and in performances on tour. During our travels, there were times when I would be soldering and repairing damaged equipment with spare parts in my hotel room prior to a concert scheduled that evening.
We were gone over 200 days a year. Some of the overseas trips would last from six to eight weeks . . . Our music was recorded in both English and Spanish and many other languages. To this day, persons in Latin America still hold the VOP quartet and those of their own that followed in high esteem, and the tradition in quartet-singing continues still today, particularly in that region.
In 1982 the quartet was released by the Voice of Prophecy. John was offered a job at the Media Center but felt he needed to help the remaining three members continue as a quartet, by finding a replacement for himself, and developing computer systems that would enable them to function as an independent group.
After the King's Heralds, John started working in the 'military division' at California Amplifier at Newberry Park, California, where microwave amplifiers for missile guidance systems, RADAR, and other related applications were developed. While it was a small start-up company when he began working there, in his nearly fifteen years there he helped them expand their offerings into other applications and products, eventually becoming one of the company's vice-presidents. He then worked briefly in Silicon Valley before retiring. He had divorced in 1998 and married Carolyn Sue Bapet while living in the Silicon Valley.
His son, Phillip, attended Walla Walla College, now University, where he completed a degree in accounting. He sang in the choir and after graduating in 1991, accepted a position in the office of the Adventist Media Center at Newberry Park. He was working there when he died on December 12, 2000, at age thirty.
His daughter, Elizabeth Ann Hart, also spent many years working in various departments of the Adventist Media Center. After graduating from Southern Adventist University with a degree in Digital Art, she married Kevin Hart, a software engineer. They have resided in Henderson, Nevada, and La Mesa, California, where Kevin worked for QualComm in software development.
After retirement, John and Carolyn Sue moved to Jefferson, Texas, where they now live near the academy where John's music career began.
Sources: Interview and conversations with John Ramsey, March 1 and 2, 2022; New Tenor Joins the VOP King's Heralds Quartet," Pacific Union Recorder, October 18, 1971, 1; "Walla Walla College Mountain Ash" 1991 (Phillip Wayne Ramsey); email from John Ramsey, March 3, 2022.