Mar 04, 2021
College of the Ozarks mourns the passing of alumnus, USAF Major General Jerry Ragsdale
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks is mourning the loss of United States Air Force Major General Jerry Ragsdale, who attended School of the Ozarks from 1965 – 1967.
Ragsdale passed away on Feb. 21 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for almost 14 years.
Ragsdale was born and raised in Marshfield, Missouri, where he lived with his parents and younger brother. Ragsdale graduated from Marshfield High School in 1965 before attending School of the Ozarks. At the time, School of the Ozarks was a two-year college.
“School of the Ozarks changed my life,” Ragsdale said. “It was my only way to college, but I really was blessed by it.”
In 1969, Ragsdale met his wife, Sue, at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.
Ragsdale served in the Texas Air National Guard for 36 years, rising to the rank of commander. He was serving in this role during the tragic 9/11 incident and responded to Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. He was instrumental in obtaining the Predator drone aircraft for the Texas Air National Guard. During his civilian career, Ragsdale was a real estate developer.
Ragsdale retired from the military in 2006, and one year later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
College President Jerry C. Davis featured Ragsdale in one of the chapters of his book, “The Four Generals of Hard Work U.” It tells the stories of four young men who came from humble roots and went on to become generals in the United States military.
“Maj. Gen. Ragsdale had a tremendous reputation as someone with a great sense of responsibility, integrity, and character,” Davis said. “He rose from very humble beginnings to success as student and achieved the rank of major general in the U.S. Air Force. His set an example of leadership and tenacity for all to follow. We send our deepest sympathy to his family and loved ones. He will be dearly missed.”