ACU’s long purple line: a father’s perspective

Ruth, Caleb, David and Luke Ramsey

Ruth, Caleb, David and Luke Ramsey

Veteran award-winning Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper columnist David Ramsey (’81) writes often for ACU Today magazine. Last Saturday, he was in Moody Coliseum to watch his son, Caleb, graduate with the Class of 2014. Caleb’s brother, Luke (’13), and sister, Ruth (’10), also are Wildcats.

David says his parents met in 1949 when his father was in the infirmary in the basement of McKinzie Hall, suffering so badly from a case of mumps that he could not speak. Sixty-five years later, David’s words about the experience of a now deep-rooted ACU legacy family may resonate with you, as they did with us:

As my son, Caleb Ramsey, walked into Moody Coliseum for graduation, a few thousand of us sat in a circle watching the procession. The vibe was all about happy. Parents and grandparents were thrilled to see their babies finish a long journey to a degree. I was jubilant, as were many in the room, to see the burden of tuition payments lifted.

Yes, this was a day of celebration.

And, for many of us, a day of remembrance.

I was sitting in Section J, but my mind kept drifting.

Dr. John C. Stevens

Dr. John C. Stevens (Photo by Clark Potts)

I thought of my father and mother, David Leon (’51) and Mary Ann (’52) Ramsey, who had graduated long ago in cozy Bennett Gymnasium from what was then known as Abilene Christian College. They had cuddled Caleb, now 6-foot-2, when he was tiny, and we talked, even then, about the day this little boy would walk proudly across the podium as an ACU graduate.

I thought of relaxing and laughing at Towne Crier Steakhouse while eating hamburgers with Dr. John C. Stevens (’38), the former ACU president who ranks as one of my heroes. He was a man of mighty intellect, but he taught me most about humility and the requirement of peace. Dr. John told me, many times in that booming voice of his, arguing never solves anything.

Dr. Walter H. Adams

Dr. Walter H. Adams

I thought of sitting in the front row at Moody with Dr. Walter H. Adams (’25), ACU’s legendary academic dean, at Opening Assembly and listening to him sing “Oh, Dear Christian College” in his deep, fine bass. Dean Adams gave my daughter, Ruth, a savings bond to pay for her college education. “For ACU!” he scrawled on a note. To me, Dr. Adams is Mr. ACU. The man who embraced this far-away idea of a thriving Christian university set on a hill. The man most responsible for making this idea a reality.

Dr. Kelly Hamby

Dr. Kelly Hamby (Photo by Shelli Starkey)

I thought of the late Dr. Kelly Dean Hamby, my dear friend, Caleb’s grandfather and one of the many deeply loved professors in ACU’s rich history. Dr. Hamby took his devotion to Christian education to Zambia in southern Africa and labored there many years before returning to again work with ACU students. Kelly traveled the world seeking to reveal Christ’s love to everyone he met. He left a powerful example for Caleb, his youngest grandchild. He left a powerful example for us all.

I’m sorry to say David Leon and Mary Ann and Dr. John and Mr. ACU and Kelly Dean could not sit beside me at Moody. They’re all gone, but thinking of them and their smiles and their sacrifices and their perseverance and their love and their faith filled me with overwhelming joy.

My father graduated from Abilene Christian in May 1951, beginning a long purple line that lingers. He was a peaceful man who was also, in his own way, gleeful. He walked through life with a bounce, and we’re talking literally here, in every step. He savored every day.

In May, 2014 my baby boy raised his arms in triumph as his name was announced in Moody Coliseum. Caleb is blessed with his grandfather’s rare blend of optimism and determination, and there’s even a hint of David Leon’s bounce in his walk.

Caleb is the 23rd ACU alum in his extended family and the 16th ACU graduate.

He will not be the last.


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