Claude Swanson Ramsey Jr. (Feb. 6, 1925 - Aug. 1, 1998)
Marketing and management executive, Claude Ramsey would build a stellar career that saw him lead one of the nation's largest conglomerates in the 1970s and 1980s, which spanned textile, chemical & other businesses.
During the 1920's, Asheville was booming when Claude S. Ramsey Jr. was
born on Feb. 6, 1925. His father, Claude Ramsey, was a newspaper man,
eventually serving as the executive news editor for the Asheville
The two mainstays of the North Carolina economy were tobacco and textiles.
In 1929, a Dutch company came to Enka, just outside of Asheville, to open American Enka to make rayon, known as artificial silk. The company built a workers' village near the plant.
In 1939, the Ramsey family relocated to Raleigh, NC.
As soon as he was eligible, Claude joined the service during World War II, serving three-and-a-half years as a bomber pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 - 1946.
Returning from military service, he got his bachelor of science degree from North Carolina State University in 1949, and a masters from New York University in 1950.
So it seemed natural for a young man from Asheville with a science education to join the American Enka Corporation's industrial relations department in 1950, which was the largest employer in the region.
Claude worked at American Enka until his retirement serving in roles of ever-increasing responsibility production manager, vice president(1962), executive vice president (1965), president and CEO (1967), and finally, as Chairman.
In 1968, Akzona, Inc. was created as the holding company for America-Enka and several other companies. Ramsey became president and CEO of this conglomerate which was headquartered in Asheville. He added the chairman title in 1972.
In 1979, buildings were razed at Pack Square in downtown Asheville to build the new headquarters of Akzona.
Over the years, Claude Ramsey was deeply involved in his hometown and throughout the state. He served as a director with Wachovia and The Amstar Corporation, as well as Chairman of the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry.
He was chairman of The United Way and a member of the Arts Council Board and The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina Board.
His commitment to education led him to serve on boards and councils for the Rockefeller University, The Asheville School, Asheville-Biltmore College, Bowman Gray Medical Center and at North Carolina State University.
Claude Ramsey received many honors, including the Watauga Medal from North Carolina State University in 1979.
He was married to Kay Kemp Ramsey.
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