Arizona. In 1949, Dr. Ragsdale married Eleanor Dickey, thus began a very special love story and a unique partnership for the rest of his life. Four children were born of this union: Elizabeth Estelle, Gwendolyn Onlia, Lincoln, Jr., and Emily.
Dr. Ragsdale gave new meaning to entrepreneurship, and achievement became his trademark through numerous highly successful business ventures. Between 1950 and 1983, he formed at least eight companies. These included the Ragsdale realty & Insurance Company, International Investment Company, International Construction Company, Valley life & Casualty Insurance, Century Sky Room Restaurant & Jazz Club, and Valley Life and Casualty Insurance Companies in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. He was also one of the founding directors of Southwest Savings & Loan association and served on the first Board of Directors of Sun State Saving & Loan Association. In addition, his influence in the community was reflected in 18 board and membership rosters.
Dr. Ragsdale was probably best known for his civil rights leadership. He was always willing to step forward when it would have been easier to stay on the sidelines. This passion was fueled by his earlier humiliation and degradation suffered while growing up in Oklahoma and while serving in the military. During the 1950s and 1960s, he fought to end segregation in Phoenix and throughout Arizona. He worked tirelessly in breaking down racial barriers to find jobs for minorities, often at the risk to his businesses.
Dr. Ragsdale was an advisor to President Reagan on Small Business Ownership during much of the 1980s. He was also a trustee of Booker T. Washington Foundation, Past State President of the Arizona Council for Civic Unity. In addition, he served in leadership roles in the NAACP received a myriad of honors and awards, including the Whitney M. Young Service Award; National Outstanding Business Man, Washington, DC; U. S. Small Business Administration, Hall of Fame, ASU College of Business Administration; and City of Phoenix human Rights Award for 25 Years of Community Services.
Dr. Ragsdale was quoted as saying, “Phoenix has been wonderful! The good thing is that through it all, we’ve been able to overcome. Let the work that I have done speak for me.”
ORIGINAL TUSKEGEE AIRMAN LINCOLN RAGSDALE
Dr. Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr., was born July 27, 1926 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He attended school there and graduated from Douglas High School. Later, he entered aviation training at Tuskegee Army Air Field and graduated in 1945 as a 2 Lt. He served as a fighter pilot during World War II and returned to Luke AFB, Arizona after the war. He had the distinction of being the first black pilot to be assigned to Luke.
After leaving the service, Lincoln went on to establish an impressive foundation in higher education. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from California College of Mortuary Science in Los Angeles, California. He received an Associates of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Science Degree with Distinction from Phoenix College and Arizona State, respectively. He earned a Doctor of Law Degree from Shorter College and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Business Administration from Union Graduate School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1948, Dr. Ragsdale and his brother, Hartwell W. Ragsdale, II began the Ragsdale Mortuary in Phoenix,
Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr.