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Friend: Ramseys needlessly suffered

July 12, 2008
By PAUL LAPANN, Managing Editor
Betty Smith of Wood County feels angry and upset that Patsy Ramsey’s name wasn’t cleared in daughter JonBenet’s murder until after Patsy’s death two years ago. Smith was reacting to this week’s news that new DNA evidence has cleared the Ramsey family in JonBenet’s death on Christmas night 1996 in Boulder, Colo. Smith was Patsy’s chaperone for the Miss America pageant representing West Virginia in 1977. “She (Patsy) was a sweet, good girl. I knew her before she became Miss West Virginia,” Smith said. Smith was among the friends and family who welcomed John and Patsy Ramsey at a reception in July 2000 at Stout Memorial United Methodist Church in Parkersburg. Patsy was in town at the time for her 25th Parkersburg High School class reunion. Smith said out-of-town media followed her to the airport and telephoned her constantly while the Ramseys were under an “umbrella of suspicion” in JonBenet’s murder. “I only had good memories of Patsy,” Smith said. ? What are the odds of all six people standing at the summit of a volcano in Hawaii being from West Virginia? This happened last month when John and Judy Sjostedt of Parkersburg and their son Daniel were vacationing in Hawaii. As Judy was climbing to the summit of Haleakala Volcano in Haleakala National Park in east Maui, she overheard two women talking and heard the words, “Logan County, West Virginia.” Judy said she turned in time to see the woman from Logan walking away but was shocked to see who she was talking to — Kristi Venderlic of St. Marys, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Pleasants County. Venderlic, whom Judy knows but hadn’t seen in two years, was with her son Kurt. A second coincidence on the Sjostedts’ trip occurred as they sat in the Kahului Airport preparing to leave Hawaii. A young man who was sitting across from Daniel, who was wearing a Mountaineer shirt, said his wife just graduated from West Virginia University. They had gone to Maui for their honeymoon and were living in Keyser in Mineral County. The woman told Judy that her grandparents live on a farm in Ritchie County. ? Parkersburg native Roger Blackburn spent three weeks in May and June playing music in Japan, Korea and China. As a trumpeter with The Philadelphia Orchestra for the past 34 years, Blackburn is now playing at the Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado and will be performing at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., next month. Despite this exciting traveling schedule, conversations with Blackburn quickly turn to his love of playing in the Parkersburg High School Big Red Marching Band in the early 1960s. A 1963 graduate of PHS, Blackburn is putting together a collection of Big Red Band concert recordings from pre-1950, when George Dietz was conductor. He has obtained a concert recording from the 1920s and a copy of the “Blennerhassett March” produced by J.C. Arnold of Parkersburg in the late 1890s. Blackburn and local band leader Doug Hess are trying to put together a concert, featuring some of this old music, in City Park in August. ? Tom Kramer and Sue Totten of Parkersburg got married just before their favorite reverends left town. The Rev. David Huffman agreed to marry Tom and Sue at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Porterfield on June 27, three days before he was being assigned to churches in Ironton, Ohio. Tom and Sue attend services at both St. Ambrose and First Lutheran Church in Parkersburg. Tom and Sue also think highly of First Lutheran’s the Rev. Jim Kinsler, who recently announced he was leaving for a church in South Carolina. Huffman and Kinsler, who are good friends, agreed to share duties at Tom and Sue’s wedding. Standing up for the couple at the small service were Norma Phillips and Phyllis Louden, both of Parkersburg who also attend First Lutheran. Tom, 70, said it was only natural for Phillips and Louden to be part of the wedding because they introduced Tom to Sue about two years ago. ? Parkersburg native Mike Fulton is coordinating the 31st annual West Virginia University alumni Crab Feast Aug. 16 at Fort Hunt Park’s Picnic Area “A” in Alexandria, Va. Fulton is hoping alumni from across the nation attend. The fundraiser is sponsored by the National Capital Area Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association, of which Fulton is a board member. About 1,000 WVU alumni and friends attend Crab Feast each year. Fulton moved to the nation’s capital 29 years ago to work for the late U.S. Rep. Robert H. Mollohan, who represented Parkersburg in Congress for many years. Contact Paul LaPann at


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