I was wondering if he was cause I started the hard answers quest and fast traveled to winterhold and I find ranmir dead in front of the inn and I am not sure how he died or what caused it but back to the question are there so few people to help in order to become a thane that he is necessary?
I'm not sure if he's necessary or not. I'm about to find out for myself.
However, I explain to you how he died.
As the College of Winterhold quest-line draws to a close, and Ancano is sucking power from the eye of Magnus, magic "anomalies" will appear through the town - Ranmir is one of teh unfortunate people who are outside during this, and the anomalies attack and kill him.
No, he's not necessary : here is all the things you can do to become thane of Winterhold, since you need only 3/3 quests you have 7 other possibilities (joining the College help). The only thing you may have to do is retrieve the Helm of Winterhold, and you can actually bypass this quest (never worked for me).