Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Tresia Jean (Ramsey) Dodson passed away peacefully on August 1, 2021 in Abingdon, Virginia at the age of 72 after a long illness, surrounded by loved ones who will continue to honor her legacy by living their lives to the fullest.
Tresia was born on December 4, 1948 to Maurice Ramsey and Margaret (Solbach/Ramsey) Coplen in Ellsworth, Kansas. She grew up in nearby Russell, Kansas among the rolling hills, wheat fields, and sunflowers of the beautiful Post Rock Prairie. A tomboy at heart, Tresia was one of four daughters in the Ramsey household – which was always bustling with activities that she loved, including music, singing, helping her dad with farming, reading, climbing trees, youth activities at her church, Rainbows, and Girl Scouts.
Tresia graduated from Russell High School and studied music therapy and classical organ at the University of Kansas prior to marrying Bruce Dodson (Russell, Kansas) in April 1967, who had enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Bruce’s twenty-year Navy career would take the family to such places as the Philippines, Tennessee, Washington, California, and Hawaii. Bruce and Tresia would later divorce in the mid-1990s.
She made a safe, warm and loving home for their two children, Laura and Alan. She was active in the music programs at her children’s schools – often directing choirs and other productions. Tresia was a foundational supporter of their sports and scouting activities – and helped instill in them the importance of family, a strong sense of public service, and a love of the outdoors, reading, and music of all kinds. Her children will miss her steadfast presence in their lives as well as her bright smile, dancing brown eyes, and infectious laugh.
While raising two children – and often running the household while Bruce was deployed overseas – Tresia began a long career that touched countless lives and communities. For many years, she served as a teacher’s assistant – working mostly with special needs children. Tresia, Bruce and Alan moved to Winfield KS in 1987 and she completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southwestern College; later receiving her Masters in Library Science from Emporia State University. She continued her career serving first as an elementary school media specialist and children’s services librarian – and later as the director of three public libraries in two different states. At the Winfield Public Library in Kansas, she led an effort to remodel the children’s library with a creative and child-centered focus. And, while at the Granville Public Library System in North Carolina, she successfully led a multi-million-dollar library expansion and renovation campaign.
Tresia had a beautiful servant’s heart and offered her time and gifts to many things during her lifetime. She served as a Navy ombudsman for nearly 20 years and helped countless spouses and families navigate the complexities of military life. She was a children’s literature scholar and a gifted storyteller and was often sought after to consult on children’s library collections and to perform as a storyteller. She was a Rotarian and life-long volunteer for Girl Scouts. She also served as chair of the South-Central Kansas Library Consortium and Families Living Violence Free (Oxford NC).
Plato is credited with saying, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” In this same spirit, music permeated Tresia’s life and defined much of who she was as a person – and it was infectious. She began playing piano in early elementary school with her mother as her teacher. From there she added other instruments such as the organ, clarinet, flute, guitar, hand bells, and hammered dulcimer. As a teenager, she was one of the principal organists for her church and filled in as the organist at many churches when a substitute was needed. She also was an anchor member of the Russell High School Marching Band. She became classically trained in the organ at the University of Kansas and would continue to play it and the piano for most of her life. Choral music was also central to Tresia – from singing around the piano with her sisters at home, to being a strong alto voice and harmonizer in many choirs and community choruses, to belting out whatever tune might be playing on the car radio.
She is survived by her daughter, Laura Dodson-Pennington of Abingdon VA, and son, Alan Michael Dodson (Kelley LeBlanc) of Seattle WA, granddaughter Sarah Pennington of Sylva NC, grandson, Asher Dodson of Seattle WA, sisters Karel Ramsey (Topeka KS), Janis Rodriquez (Como, CO), Patricia Fischer (Leesburg, VA), and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces. She was preceded in death by her father Maurice Ramsey, mother Margaret (Solbach/Ramsey) Coplen, and son-in-law Kevin Pennington.
A private remembrance will be observed by the family. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Winfield Public Library Tresia Dodson Memorial, 605 College Street Winfield KS 67156.