Thomas DeRamus Jr.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Colonel Thomas Barnett DeRamus Jr., PhD, age 80, of Tuscaloosa died Tuesday at his residence.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Christ Episcopal Church with the Rev. Hoyt Winslett Jr. and the Rev. Katherine Collier officiating and Heritage Chapel Funeral Home, a Dignity Memorial Provider, directing. A reception will immediately follow the service in Randall Hall.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riverside Cemetery in the Lanier Family Plot in Hopkinsville, Ky., with full military honors provided by the 101st Airborne Division and with the Rev. William Watson officiating.

DeRamus is survived by his wife of 58 years, Elizabeth Lanier DeRamus; his sons, Thomas Barnett III, Sterling and David; daughter, Elizabeth Crommelin; sister, Carolyn DeRamus Cumbie; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Barnett grew up in Verbena, the son of the late Lt. Colonel and Mrs. Thomas Barnett DeRamus. He graduated from high school at Marion Military Institute in 1946 and then from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the class of 1951.

He and Betsy were married shortly afterward, and after completing parachute jump training, DeRamus was off to the Korean War, where he served as a platoon leader on the front lines and earned a Bronze Star for bravery. He served overseas for about 17 years in Korea, Vietnam, Italy, Germany and North Africa during nearly 30 years in the U.S. Army.

Barnett also graduated from the Army Language School in Italian and attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; The Scuala di Guerra in Civitaveechia, Italy; and the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. In addition to Italian, he became fluent in both German and French. He commanded units from Platoon to Brigade in the 32nd Infantry Regiment, the 44th Tank Battalion, the 11th armored Calvary Regiment, the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, the 4th Armored Division and the 1st Armored Division. He was also a Special Forces officer and a Green Beret instructor.

Retiring from the Army, Barnett and Betsy made Tuscaloosa their home. Barnett was an instructor in French at the University of Alabama while working on his PhD. Later, he was assistant professor of 19th and 20th Century French literature at Birmingham-Southern College.

After retiring from academia, Barnett purchased a small airplane. He and Betsy often flew to Alabama’s beautiful beaches, Key West, the Mississippi River, the Carolina beaches, Kentucky and Tennessee. He accumulated over 1,800 hours in the friendly skies of Alabama and beyond.

Barnett and Betsy continued to visit their many military and literary friends in France, Germany and Italy. He always attended his 1951 Class reunions at West Point to be with his oldest, best and most noble friends.
Pallbearers will be Thomas B. DeRamus III; Sterling L. DeRamus, Capt., USNR; David W. DeRamus; James C. Barton Jr.; David S. Crommelin; Joel Cumbie; Duke Heflin; John R. Oneal; Robert Shaw; George E. Meighen; John Ritchie and John B. Lewis.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa; Grace Episcopal Church in Hopkinsville, Ky.; Hospice of West Alabama; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the National Foundation for Cancer Research.