Ramona Lee Dempster

Published 11:39 am Monday, May 13, 2024

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February 1, 1941 – April 3, 2024

Southern Shores, NC – On the early morning of April 3, as sunrise peeked over the sand dunes of the Outer Banks, casting its golden glow across the still waters of the Croatan Sound, with waterfowl announcing the new day, Ramona looked out from her home upon those magical waters of Southern Shores, North Carolina. Surrounded by her children and grandchildren, with the fireplace flickering and 50s dance music playing, Ramona boarded one way passage into our collective hearts and memories.

Born on February 1, 1941 in Cambridge, MD to Russell McWilliams and Nannie Leeds Clementine Hurley McWilliams Short. In her early years, Ramona traipsed around town with younger brothers Shel and Danny, often steering the two away from causing neighborhood mayhem. Then the family moved to Salisbury, MD where Ramona attended Wicomico High School. In her teen years, Ramona found herself as something of a minor local celebrity. She was often seen in the public eye due to her modeling for downtown clothing stores and for winning a classic 50s sock hop contest, which was witnessed both live and broadcasted on WBOC-TV across the handful of black and white TV sets scattered around town. Then, in 1960, her eyes met with Richard B. Dempster Sr.’s at Bill’s Seafood, where she, as hostess, checked in this tall handsome man for his dinner reservation. And the rest, as they say, was history.

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Despite this fleeting brush with fame, Ramona’s greatest joy and accomplishment was her career as a “homemaker” for husband Richard and children Dick Jr., Kimm, Jeff, Mark, and Anne. A job title that seems to have gone out of fashion but should be required case study reading for today’s Ivy League MBA students because this is a leadership role that is not for the faint of heart. In their partnership in building a family and a life together, as Richard would skip off daily to the comfy confines of Campbell Soup, Ramona would perform her version of Ginger Rogers dancing backwards in high heels. She managed the 24/7 chaos of five children through school classes, untold sports and performance practices and events, emergency hospital visits, and emotional high wire social lives. And she did so not just in one locale but across three countries, eleven states, and 22 households.

Along every stop across this expansive map, Ramona crafted each house into a warm, inviting home due to her immaculate decorating skills. She had an eye for color combinations and a knack for fusing together furnishing styles and eras. Elements that made no sense on paper but made perfect sense when put into place. That’s why every one of Ramona’s homes was a place that always drew in family and friends to linger and laugh and dine as their home away from home.

Ramona is survived by her children Kimm Applegate (Middletown, NJ), Jeff Dempster (Salisbury, MD), Mark Dempster and wife Kim (San Francisco, CA), Anne Wiseman and husband Bob (Camden, NC); brother Sheldon McWilliams and wife Teresa (Rock Hill, SC); along with 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. This gaggle will miss dearly the noisy gatherings Ramona (aka: Mom, Mom Mom and Gigi) often brought together under her roof.

Predeceased by her brother Danny and son Dick Jr., Ramona is now “together once again” with her beloved husband Richard following 59 years of dedicated marriage.

A celebration of life will be held where Ramona and Richard will be laid to rest together at the Old Trinity Church in Woolford, MD, overlooking the beautiful waters of Church Creek, followed by a festive gathering amongst family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites family and friends to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at lls.org (see “How to Help, Donate Online”).

Twiford Funeral Homes, Outer Banks is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.TwifordFH.com.