Sheldon Herman Ramsdell

Share This Obituary


Memories & Candles

“I met Sheldon "Shelly" Herman Ramsdell and his closest friend and political activist John Belskus in early 1989 when they came together and visited...Read More »
1 of 1 | Posted by: Stuart McDonald - Salt Lake City, UT


Navy Emblem

SHELDON HERMAN "SHELLY" RAMSDELL

Birth: 31 Aug 1935, Wells, York County, Maine
Death: 25 Mar 1996, San Francisco City & County, California
Age: 60
Cause: AIDS

[Cremated: Ashes scattered at 1996 March on Washington, D.C. for Lesbian/Gay Rights]
___________

OBITUARY -- Sheldon Herman Ramsdell (age 60)
Published on Saturday, March 30, 1996, San Francisco Chronicle

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/OBITUARY-Sheldon-Ramsdell-2988197.php

Sheldon Ramsdell -- photojournalist, publicist & political activist who co-founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the 1960s -- died Monday at his home in San Francisco after a long battle with AIDS at age 60.

Since the early 1980s, Ramsdell had been an advocate for people with AIDS, gays & lesbians & for veterans. He was also an activist in the Democratic Party on labor union issues.

In 1967, Ramsdell was one of the founders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, one of the most influential anti-war groups of the era, which in 1971 staged a dramatic march on Washington in which veterans tossed their medals over a fence onto the Capitol steps.

Ramsdell was a press aide for the veterans' group, and served in the same role for the presidential campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy & New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug.

His photographs were exhibited in the New York Public Theater & on NBC TV's Today Show, and were published in a range of newspapers & magazines including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Esquire and Time.

He is survived by his parents, Herman & Louise Ramsdell, of Olgonquit, Maine; a sister, Shirley Suglia, of Shelton, Conn.; and brothers, Donald Ramsdell of Naples, Fla., and Glenn Ramsdell, of Wells, Maine.

Contributions may be made to The Restitution Project, 584 Castro Street 514, San Francisco 94114, a new organization dedicated to acknowledging the contribution of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender veterans.
___________

Published in 'THE VETERAN' newsletter, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, 50 cents, Fall 1996 (Volume 26, Number 1, Page 11);
Obituary only: http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=304
Full newsletter: http://www.vvaw.org/pdf/v26n1.pdf

FALLEN COMRADES: SHELLY RAMSDELL
Obit and photo by Linda Alband [incorrectly attributed to the Bay Area Reporter's Mary Ann Swissler]

Sheldon 'Shelly' [Herman] Ramsdell
August 31, 1935 - March 25, 1996

Photojournalist and political activist Sheldon Ramsdell died at his home on Monday, March 25th after a lengthy battle with AIDS. He was 60.

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1958, Shelly Ramsdell dedicated much of the rest of his life to his twin loves, photography and politics. An inveterate letter writer who expressed his opinion on issues ranging from Gay/Lesbian rights to NAFTA, Shelly Ramsdell always backed up his rhetoric with active participation.

In 1967, he co-founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), the influential group that went on to galvanize our seriously flagging antiwar movement. In 1971, VVAW staged a highly publicized one week encampment on the Washington Mall. It was during this series of actions, dubbed Operation Dewey Canyon III, that the assembled vets tossed their medals over the fence onto the Capitol steps in one of the most visibly dramatic moments of our domestic struggle to end the war in Vietnam. Shelly Ramsdell was there with his camera. He was VVAW's press aide until 1974.

During this period, he was also the chief press aide for U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign, an aide for New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, and a photographer for Norman Mailer's unsuccessful 1969 bid to become Mayor of New York.

After moving to San Francisco in 1984, he was active in local political groups, particularly focusing on issues affecting people with AIDS. In 1990, he was a delegate to the Sixth International Conference on AIDS, and was part of the San Francisco ACT-UP contingent sent to both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 1992. While at the Republican Convention in Houston, he donned his sports coat and crashed several private Republican Party events to talk to his old media cronies and lobby Republicans on behalf of PWAs.

Col. Cliff Anchor, Commander of the Alexander Hamilton Post of the American Legion, credits Shelly Ramsdell with having decorated J. Edgar Hoover's grave with pink triangles and lingerie during the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian/Gay Rights.

A self-taught photographer, his photographic interests ranged from the political arena to Broadway and beyond. He took Barbra Streisand's first publicity photos, photographed Helena Rubenstein, Joel Gray (in Cabaret makeup), Abbie Hoffman, Broadway producer Fred Ebb (Cabaret and Kiss of the Spider Woman), Bette Midler and William S. Burroughs, among many others. His photographs have been exhibited at the New York Public Theater and on NBC TV's Today Show. They were published in the New York Times, Esquire, Time, Playboy, Chicago Tribune, Interior Design, Key West Arts Review, AP, and UPI. Friends will be arranging a posthumous show of his photos, including his photos of J. Edgar Hoover's "decorated" gravesite.

He is survived by his parents, Herman and Louise Ramsdell of Olgonquit, Maine; a sister, Shirley Suglia, of Shelton, Connecticut; brothers Donald Ramsdell of Naples, Florida and Glenn Ramsdell of Wells, Maine; nieces, nephews, and legions of friends.

Tax-deductible contributions may be made in Shelly's name to The Restitution Project, 584 Castro Street #514, San Francisco CA 94114, a new organization dedicated to acknowledging the contribution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and service members.
___________

Ramsdell, Sheldon, 1935-1996. WorldCat
(birth 1935 - death 1996)

[From the description of Sheldon Herman Ramsdell papers, 1955-1996. (Cornell University Library). WorldCat record id: 64055747']

Biographical History: Photojournalist Sheldon (Shelly) Ramsdell, born on August 31, 1935 in Maine, served in the Navy, flying photograph missions over Indochina ca. 1955-58. He was honorably discharged in 1958. In 1967, he was one of the founders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, one of the most influential anti-war groups of the era. In addition to photographing celebrities, Ramsdell served as chief press aide for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy's 1968 presidential bid, as well as for New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug. His photographs were published in periodicals including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Esquire, and Time. He was also an activist in the Democratic Party on labor union issues. Since the early 1980s, Ramsdell was an activist on behalf of people with AIDS, gay men and lesbians, and veterans. He died

continued...