By Margaret Downing


LOVES PARK – The City of Loves Park received a one-of-a-kind donation recently that is now on display in the main entrance area of the city hall complex.

Ron Ramlow of Cherry Valley built the ship replica of an English frigate called the Fairfax (1650-1653) and has donated it to the city.

Mayor Darryl Lindberg and the entire city council were present Aug. 31 to accept this wonderful gift from Ramlow.

Ramlow, an Air Force veteran and former history teacher at Marshfield, Wis. was accompanied by wife Dini, and friends and co-contributors to the display – Wanetta and Tracy King.

Wanetta’s husband, Richard (Richard King and Sons) served for some years on Loves Park’s Civil Service Commission and the family has a history in Loves Park. Mayor Lindberg noted that King’s company built all the furniture in city hall chambers.

Tracy King, the son, said his company built the beautiful cabinet that holds the replica and that Cardinal Glass donated the glass in the cabinet.

Ron Ramlow said it takes him anywhere from three to six months to build a ship replica and he has donated various ships to a number of schools and libraries in the area, hoping it will generate in young people an interest in history.

He said, “Family members have all gotten ships too, and they are proudly displayed!”

The ship replicas are of various ships and include the Constitution, Ramlow’s pride and joy, which can be seen at Rock Valley College’s library. Some area schools that have received ships include Kinnikinnick School in Roscoe, Rockford Christian Elementary and High School, Boylan High School, St. Rita’s and Holy Family elementary schools.

St. Bridget’s in Loves Park was recently presented with a ship for its school library, a replica of a British Navy ship, the “Syren” (late 1700s-early 1800s). Rockford Lutheran High School will receive a ship in the near future.

Libraries have also benefited from Ramlow’s gifts and include the Talcott Library in Rockton, the Roscoe North Suburban Library, Loves Park NSLB will soon receive one, and the library in Cherry Valley has one.

“Boylan and Rockford Christian used two replicas for school fundraisers and they did very well,” Ramlow noted. The Rockford Navy Club, and now Loves Park City Hall have ships.

Ron is a native of Milwaukee and said, “Ever since I was kid, I have admired the Navy and have always enjoyed reading about ships. My current project is building the CSS Alabama, a Confederate ship of the American Civil War.

From Wikipedia, comes this information on the CSS Alabama: “It was a screw sloop-of-war built in 1862 for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead on the River Mersey opposite Liverpool, England by John Laird Sons and Company.

“The Alabama served as a successful commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never anchored in a Southern port. She was sunk in June 1864 by the USS Kearsarge at the Battle of Cherbourg outside the port of Cherbourg, France.”

Ramlow is currently planning 13 more ships! All ships are presented in a case. When presenting a ship to a school, especially elementary schools, Ramlow will speak to third and fourth graders telling them all about their particular ship. History is of great importance to Ramlow and he is very happy to generate an interest in the youngsters about history.

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Margaret Downing photos

Pictured standing near the replica of the English ship “Fairfax” (1650) from left are Didi Ramlow and husband, “shipbuilder” Ron Ramlow. On the right is Mayor Darryl Lindberg standing behind Wanetta King with son Tracy King of Richard King and Sons, who donated the handcrafted cabinet for the ship. Brother Dave King was not able to attend. Glass, which is unbreakable, was donated by Cardinal Glass.

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