LIMA — Wayne Ramga stopped in the office recently, eager to share the story of his wife, Betty.
She was the first female communications officer for the Lima Police Department, hired May 7, 1958. Wayne Ramga brought a file folder of correspondence and photos of those times, something The Lima News encourages from its readers.
Betty Ramga attracted media attention with her hiring. The Lima Citizen published the following item May 6, 1958:
“Mrs. Betty Louise Ramga, resident of 664 Cortlandt, will set a new Lima precedent tomorrow. At 8:30 tomorrow morning, Mrs. Ramga goes to work as the city’s first woman police dispatcher, according to Mayor Clyde Welty. The mayor announced today that he has appointed Mrs. Ramga effective immediately to launch the program of women dispatchers to replace able-bodied patrolmen now holding the jobs for patrol work. Mrs. Ramga, according to the mayor, will be the only woman on the job for at least a week, in a training program to get herself oriented to the job. She is the mother of three children. According to police authorities, two other women will be appointed May 16 to fill in the other two shifts and convert the Lima police station to 24-hour service with women dispatchers. The others are Mrs. Betty Lou Cygan, mother of four youngsters and resident of 411 S. West., and Miss Rose Eileen Gary, of 123 1/2 S. Elizabeth.”
A photo was taken of the three women with Municipal Court Judge Carl M. Blank, who was quoted as saying “that the girls will do a lot to brighten the appearance of the police station.”
Blank mailed Ramga’s signed oath of office statement to her, which the family kept. It was postmarked May 6, 1958, has a “Pray for Peace” cancellation mark and a 3-cent stamp.
A letter from the Civil Service Board reports she scored 92.15 percent on her exam, which put her in first place. That made her the first hire, quickly followed by the two other women. They earned $218 a month.
It didn’t take her long to make herself known within the department as well as without. She went a letter to Chief Donald F. Miller, dated Dec. 1, 1960, asking for the position to be reclassified. That would bring a pay raise, and she made a clear argument for it. It was something she would continue to argue for, listing the department’s duties and responsibilities. Her tone was forceful yet respectful.
In a letter dated March 25, 1968, she took the opportunity to make another argument since a new teletype machine was coming. It was the department’s responsibility, and it added to their workload. “The degree of efficiency to which the Lima Police Department performs depends immeasurably on its Communication Operator. The importance of this position compares to that of a Police Officer and should be given like consideration.”
She also pushed for uniforms. A letter dated March 27, 1969, and signed by her co-workers Martha C. Zerkel and Pamela S. Reynolds, was sent to Inspector Robert L. Clemens: “As you already know from our previous conversations and an earlier letter it is our desire to wear uniform clothing while on duty. We want to take this opportunity to advise that if the Department is unwilling to purchase uniform clothing for us at this time, we are agreed that we want to buy clothing suitable for uniform wear. We suggest that a navy blue skirt and white blouse with Lima Police Department patch on its sleeve would be attractive as well as practical for our use. The blouse should be long sleeved during the winter months and short sleeved during summer months in accordance with the seasonal uniform change of the Department. Please know we appreciate your understanding of our reasons for this request and we hope for your continuing efforts in our behalf.”
Inspector Clemens sent a letter dated Dec. 16, 1968, in support: “It is my opinion that this job was rated too low at the original classification.”
A letter from Ramga dated April 25, 1969, was sent directly to the mayor. She continued to disagree with the job classification, comparing it to other jobs on the force in its class. “… Also we feel that these responsibilities and the education required for this position call for a higher classification than a position requiring an eighth grade education and responsibilities which are not of the life and death nature.”
Ramga’s letter to Chief William K. Davenport on Oct. 2, 1969, was the most strongly worded of the bunch. She was still arguing for reclassification or at least the possibility of promotion. But it was not to be — so she redirected her career.
A letter dated Oct. 9, 1970, from Mayor Christian P. Morris shared her good news: she was appointed Account Clerk II in the Public Works Department of the city effective Oct. 12, 1970.
“”Permission has been obtained from City Council and you are, therefore, placed in Pay Range 13, Step C, with a salary of $496.00 per month.” She had scored 98.25 percent on the exam.
In that department, Ramga finished her career and retired May 8, 1978. City Council issued her a testimonial in appreciation of her service.
Betty Ramga died in 2007.
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