Obituary: John Barada Ramsay Dec. 28, 1929 – Dec. 29, 2022

John Barada Ramsay, 93, passed away at his home December 29, 2022,  one day after his 93rd birthday. He was born in 1929 in Phoenix, Arizona to  John Arthur and Helen Grace (Hernan) Ramsay. At a young age, he moved  to El Paso, Texas to live with his Aunt Laura and Uncle John (Jack) Barada.  

After graduation, he enrolled at Texas Western College (University of Texas El Paso today) where he found his groove in academia and really began to flourish. He graduated from Texas Western College in 1950 with a BS in Mining. He then pursued and received his Ph.D. (1954) in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

When asked what his greatest achievement was in life, he responded “the greatest thing that happened in my life was inviting Barbara Hilsenhoff to go to the movies with me in late 1951. The movie was Cyrano de Bergerac. We were both sitting in Hoofer Quarters (an  outdoor student organization at the University of Wisconsin) and I had just broken up with a girlfriend of  several months.” They married in April 1953. John and Barbara were off on new adventures….. 

In 1954 John accepted a job at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (now Los Alamos National  Laboratory) studying the initiation of explosives. He and Barbara relocated to Los Alamos where they  “lived on the hill” until he and a group of similarly-minded colleagues formed the Pajarito Acres Development Association commonly known as Pajarito Acres. In 1965, John and Barbara built their  home and resided there until his passing.  

In 1970 he accepted an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the College of Petroleum and Minerals in  Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He and the family moved to the Middle East so he could teach. The family spent three years and traveled the Middle East and Europe during summer breaks.  

They returned to Los Alamos and his explosives work at the Lab in 1973 where he worked until his retirement in 1993. After his retirement, he consulted as a Senior Advisor on the safety aspects of  chemical explosives in the US and abroad.  

Beyond science, his passions were mountain adventures, travel, the outdoors, and New Mexico history. He and Barbara traveled the world, including the US, the Middle East, Europe, Antarctica, Central/South  America, Scandinavia, Canada, and more. Often their children or grandchildren would accompany them.  

John was very active in Los Alamos outdoor activities, including Los Alamos Mountaineers, Los Alamos  Dog Obedience Club, Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol, National Ski Patrol, Explorer Post 20, and the Pajarito  Riding Club.  

History and exploring historical trails kept John and Barbara busy. He was a research associate for the  Museum of New Mexico and served as an archivist for both the Los Alamos Historical Society and the  Historical Society of New Mexico. He was a member of the Archeological Institute of America (President  1979, 1996-97) and Westerners International (President 1988-90). He wrote several papers and books on western history and received an outstanding service award from the Historical Society of New Mexico. He collected and shared many books, old maps, and artworks. He has donated some to university libraries in Kentucky, New Mexico, Texas, and Tennessee.

John is survived by his wife of 69 years, Barbara, and their four children Bryan (Conchita) Ramsay,  Kathleen Ramsay (Lou Horak, deceased), Carol (Alan) Black, and David (Susan) Ramsay. They are blessed  with six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. 

Life is a beautiful collage of priceless moments and memories, which when pieced all together creates a  unique treasured masterpiece. – Melanie M. Koulouris 

A service will be held in the spring. Drop Carol Black an email: for an update on the date of  John’s service. The family requests that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the Land of Enchantment Wildlife  Foundation ( or The Horse Shelter (