Couple spreads love and laughter around the world

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

“Trees talk,” said Geraldine Ragan of Chelsea.

No, she doesn’t carry on conversations with trees in her backyard. She talks with one sitting on her lap in front of audiences.

“Little Ricky,” her work partner of 40-plus years, is a 42-inch, bass wood ventriloquist’s dummy.
Geraldine and Ricky have performed across the U.S., in several foreign countries and on cruises. My husband, Ken, and I first saw them several years ago at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky.

They appear before audiences of thousands and at small church gatherings, sharing messages of love and laughter.

Watching Ricky interact with the ventriloquist and the audience, it’s easy to forget he’s not a real person. Geraldine prepares material beforehand, she said, but much of it is off-the-cuff, generated by things that are happening in the lives of people in the audience, people she meets and talks with at the function where she’s performing.

At a recent luncheon I attended with the couple, Ricky shared his definition of love with a member of the audience who had just become engaged to be married.

“Love is a three-ring circus,” he said. “The first ring is the engagement ring, the second ring is the wedding ring and the third ring is the suffer-ring.”

Geraldine and Ricky’s February appearances include a seniors’ luncheon at Grace Life Baptist Church in Bessemer, a Valentine banquet at South Shelby Baptist in Shelby and a cruise to the Bahamas.

Other appearances this year include an Alaskan cruise in July and the Great Smokies Praisefest in November, among other functions.

“The Bible says a merry heart is good like a medicine,” Geraldine said. “Anytime I am able to put a smile on somebody’s face, I want to do it.”

Geraldine believes her talent is a gift from God. When she accepted Christ into her life as a teenager at a youth camp, she asked God to take her life and use it. “There was a ventriloquist there,” she said, “And I thought ‘If God can use a ventriloquist, he can use me.'”

Overnight, Geraldine became a ventriloquist. After high school she was offered a fantastic career with Disneyland, but declined in order to dedicate her life and talent to full-time Christian service. She is married to professional golfer, Dave Ragan. The couple has two adult sons and two grandchildren.

Geraldine Ragan can be reached at 678-9693.