The Honorable Lady Adriana Ramstar, known mundanely as Cecilia Sugar, died on September 30th, 2016 after a short battle with cancer. She was 66.
Though inactive in recent years, Adriana served as Seneschale of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands and also as Seneschale of the Western Region of the East Kingdom in the 1980s, before the founding of the Principality of Æthelmearc.
Adriana was primarily famed as a cook and autocrat, having helped create and organize the long-running Viking Winterfinding event that was held each fall in the Debatable Lands from the 1980s well into the 1990s. Many members of the Society once called her their SCA “Mom” for the assistance and encouragement she provided to them.
Master Morien MacBain recalls Her Ladyship this way:
Adriana Ramstar was a woman who beggared metaphor. When she sailed into my life in the summer of ’88, I was swept into her circle of tarnished young things. In her tiny, crammed walk-up flat she poured out the wine of life for us, and under her aegis we weathered battered relationships, broken hearts, hangovers, and shattered myths-of-self. She showed us the kind beating heart of the Society, and fed us on books, stories of better days, and ramen. She saw things in us that we couldn’t or wouldn’t see for ourselves. Eventually we began to shine, and many of us still carry the glints of that magic of her personality. Wherever shall we find her like again? God rest her sweet soul.
Mistress Amaryllis Coleman recalls her cooking, especially at Pennsic:
Adriana Ramstar and her cadre had the biggest of hearts and were the hardest of workers.
Pennsic storms were terrifying, especially in its earlier years. Yet when the call was made for assistance, Adriana stepped up immediately. At an early Pennsic (XIII?), she agreed to cook for an archery dinner. In spite of the storm, Adriana provided the feast she promised. At one point, she was cooking it in her camp, with a tall friend standing over her and her stove using a cape to shield her a bit while she cooked. Thus, the lucky archers got a hot and delicious meal. There was an impromptu Royal court in the barn, and a local person, Gwilym, had just been given a welcome award by King Morghun, and there was much rejoicing and vivating. At that point, a golf cart drove into the barn and [the driver] demanded to speak to the “person in charge.” Adriana, as “autocrat” stepped forward. The men in the cart both reproached and berated her, saying it was reprehensible that anyone should be enjoying themselves when there was so much real trouble going on. Adriana, while taken aback, recognized the extreme stress the Pennsic deputy was under, and instead of taking umbrage, immediately went back to camp to start cooking again, so that anyone who still needed hot food could be comforted.
She and her cadre were available to anyone in need, no matter when, who, or how big. They were known to go to events where the groups, being young or new, would be overwhelmed and ready to quit. So instead of being able to lie back and enjoy an event like most of usually get to do, she would come forward and offer their services, then proceed to arrange the kitchen, procure food, cook it, find needed personnel to run activities such as fighting, quests, etc., and people would have a great time and the groups would make money instead of lose it. They even came up with a name for themselves; “Instant Event Flakes.”
Lady Bronwyn Jourdemaine remembers another charitable event:
In 1983, [Adriana helped] put together a toy drive for the children of out-of-work steelworkers. The mills where closing then, and times were hard here.
Sir Alonzio of the Peacemakers commented:
[When] I was very young she allowed me to participate in events. At a time when there were no other children around, she welcomed me to help with setup, teardown, [and] general event things. I was able to work in her kitchens and was actively welcomed. This made a difference to me being willing to play more in the SCA.
Meesteress Odriana vander Brugghe recalls:
The thing that I remember most about Adriana Ramstar was her gracious and expansive sense of family and community. She welcomed each of us with the same unconditional love and warm caring, which was utterly foreign to me at the time. She showed me, as she showed so many, the best parts of the SCA and allowed us to find our own space within it. Her work ethic, her kindness, and her generosity became things that I so very much wished to emulate. I probably spent the better part of a year hanging out at her apartment playing RPGs and learning how to make medieval clothing. Drinking endless pots of coffee and just talking, sometimes for days on end. For me, those years contain some of my happiest memories and those people – those amazing, funny, broken, creative people that she surrounded herself with – made me feel welcome and accepted in a way that I never felt possible. When I, many years later, was looking for a new SCA name, when I found “Odriana” it reconnected me with all of those things that she taught all of us and chose it to remind myself to always be accepting of others, to work hard, to give to others before myself, to always be caring, and, above all, to remember what an enormous difference one person can make in someone’s life.
Master Donnan MacDubhsidhe says of THLady Adriana:
Boss, Sarge, Ma Vader, all these names and more, but to me and so many others she was someone we called friend. She was a mentor, a person we could depend on, and a shoulder to lean on when we needed it. For me, she was the one who, when I showed up to a local event and found that the autocrat and staff hadn’t done their job, Adriana took over and made a feast from scratch. The event has been called “The event I showed up to, and found out I was the autocrat.” She came to the event to enjoy herself, but instead comfortably gave her time and energy to save the event. She was like that. The other memory I have of her is best illustrated by one of the pictures, the one in roman garb (shown above right). Adriana indeed played Roman. Of course that was the time when I and so many young SCAdians were playing “Generic Early Period Celt.” For those of us who were also fortunate enough to have Adriana as a friend, that meant we had our own personal Roman. Good-natured jokes and songs could be directed at Rome while Adriana gamely feigned outrage and played our dignified Roman adversary. The game was fun, and more importantly made us feel we had a place in the SCA. Of course it also meant that if she needed someone to help with an event in any capacity, these unruly Celts were the people she would ask. There may not be many of those badly dressed Celts left – many have left the SCA – but so many others are the leaders and Peers of today, including myself. She gave me a home in the SCA, and I wouldn’t be here today if not for Adriana.
Meesteress Odriana, who is currently seneschal of the Debatable Lands, says “At Agincourt we will be remembering Adriana during dinner. A place will be set for her and we will have a toast to her, where those who remember her will have an opportunity to say a few words about her as they are so moved.”
THLady Adriana’s SCA awards included the East Kingdom’s Silver Crescent for service and Burdened Tyger for autocratting a specific event, Æthelmearc’s Keystone for service, and Debatable Lands Comets for service and arts.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help her family defray the cost of THLady Adriana’s final medical and hospice care as well as funeral expenses.
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