'She did what she thought was right': Dr. Ann Ramage remembered

Dr. Ann Ramage, a WellSpan family doctor for nearly 20 years, was well-known among her patients. 

Dr. Ann Ramage

She cared about them and wanted what was best for them, according to her family.

“She did what she thought was right with her patients, that was pretty much her guiding light," her husband, Rich Berkoski, said Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Ramage, whose health care career in York County spanned over three decades, died Sunday, Sept. 30. She had been at Penn Presbyterian in Philadelphia for several weeks after a crash Aug. 4 in New Jersey. She was 64.

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York roots: Ramage graduated from West York Area High School in 1971, went to Bucknell University and eventually went to Medical College of Pennsylvania.

She returned to the York area in the early 1980s to complete her residency, according to her husband. 

Her daughter, Alicia Berkoski, noted that Ramage didn't get into medical school on her first try. Rich Berkoski said Ramage took a research position at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore after she was turned down. Ramage was accepted on her second try.

Rich Berkoski said his wife had family members who worked in the medical field, but he didn't think that's why she became a doctor herself.

“It was just a belief that she could do whatever she wanted to do,” he said.

He recalled his wife being several hours late for her own bridal shower. She was on call that day.

Dr. Ann Ramage, second from left, poses with family during a vacation in the summer. Ramage died Sunday, Sept. 30. Photo courtesy of Alicia Berkoski.

"She just had stuff to do that did not include a bridal shower," he said.

He said Ramage completed her residency at York Hospital, and she then spent 15 years working as a family doctor for the York Health Corp. before taking a position at the Bannister Street, West Manchester Township, practice where she would spend nearly 20 years as a family doctor. It was known as Yorktowne Family Medicine before it joined WellSpan. 

Pat Strausbaugh, of Manchester Township, is in the unique position of knowing Ramage in multiple ways. She was friends with Ramage's mother growing up, so she saw Ramage grow up. She said Ramage always wanted to be a doctor. 

And when Ramage became a doctor, Strausbaugh was one of her patients as well.

"I told her she may not retire until I’m dead,” Strausbaugh said. 

Dr. Ann Ramage, second from right, sits with family during a vacation in the summer. Ramage died Sunday, Sept. 30. Photo courtesy of Alicia Berkoski.

Family doctor: Alicia Berkoski said that once her mother interned in Philadelphia at a clinic for people who didn't have a family doctor. Ramage's experience there was the impetus for her to become a family doctor.

"She didn't want people to not have a family doctor to go to on a regular basis," Alicia Berkoski said.

She said that's partly why Ramage always had a strong relationship with her patients.

"She told me she wanted the community, especially York, to have the option of a family doctor who would be here and be able to have a strong relationship with their provider," Alicia Berkoski said.

Strausbaugh said Ramage's doctoring was "spot-on." She recalled a time when her husband had to go to the hospital and Ramage checked in on him.

“She was what you wish every doctor would be," Strausbaugh said. 

Tammy Wilfong, of Goldsboro, said she had Ramage as a doctor for about three decades.

“She was the type of doctor that everybody hopes to have," she said

Wilfong said she saw Ramage about three to four times a year.

“I feel like I lost a part of our family, because that’s what she was to us,” she said.

Wilfong noted that Ramage was knowledgeable and would always get back to her when she had questions about medication. She also knew which specialists to send people to, Wilfong said.

“Half the time she was smarter than they were," she said.

Those specialists, she said, all knew of Ramage.

“They all spoke about her with respect," Wilfong said.

Wilfong said Ramage was someone who always had patients' backs, and Ramage was like a "parental figure" to her.

“I can’t put into words well enough what she meant," she said.

Strausbaugh said Ramage isn't someone who can be replaced. 

"Nothing was ever too much for her," she said.

She said she never heard anything bad about Ramage — only good things. Strausbaugh said she and her husband were devastated by the news of her death. 

“She is going to be missed, I’m telling you," she said. 

Those thoughts were echoed by Wilfong.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do without her," she said.

Dr. Karen Jones, senior vice president of WellSpan Health, issued a statement Tuesday on Ramage's death.

"All of WellSpan Health, and notably her many colleagues in the WellSpan Medical Group, were saddened by the passing on Sunday of Dr. Ann Ramage. Dr. Ramage has been a dear friend, valued colleague, and highly skilled physician at WellSpan Family Medicine — Bannister Street.

"She spent the past few decades providing compassionate, expert care to her patients and the York community, and she will be deeply missed. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and patients. We will continue our efforts to reach out to Dr. Ramage’s patients to ensure a coordinated transition of their care."

'Granny Ann': Rich Berkoski said his wife enjoyed gardening and needlepoint. However, she didn't always have time to do that with all the work she was doing. 

She was also heavily invested in family. Ramage loved her two children and her two grandchildren.

"She's the greatest grandmother I've ever known in my life," Rich Berkoski said, adding that her grandchildren knew her as "Granny Ann."

"That's what she lived for," he said. 

She also enjoyed traveling. He said the family typically goes to the beach for two weeks every year and the family was returning from a two-week trip when the crash happened.

Crash: Middle Township Police said that Ramage and Roberta Blasdell, 65, were injured when a 73-year-old Collingswood, New Jersey, woman crashed into their car Aug. 4.

Rich Berkoski said their family had been at the shore for vacation and were on their way back to the York area. He said his wife stopped at a craft show with Blasdell, a family friend, and Rich Berkoski said he went off without them. 

According to police, Elizabeth MacNamara was traveling south on Court House-South Dennis Road when her vehicle, a 2016 Honda CRV, went into the northbound lane of travel and struck a 2011 Ford Escape carrying Ramage and Blasdell head-on.

MacNamara was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Blasdell was injured in the crash.

A viewing for Ramage will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 6, at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 839 W. Market St., according to Alicia Berkoski. A funeral service will follow that, she said.

In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to Katallasso Family Health Center, in York City.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had Tammy Wilfong's name spelled incorrectly. The York Dispatch regrets the error.