Funeral arrangements are pending.
Born in East Los Angeles, Mr. Ramos was part of the pioneering generation of journalists of color who in the early 1970s broke the unspoken “apartheid” that existed in the media. A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1969, George served two years in the army, was wounded in Vietnam and awarded a Purple Heart. His journalistic career started in the early 70s and took him from Copley News Service to the San Diego Union to the Los Angeles Times, which he joined in 1978.
In the words of his colleague and friend Frank Sotomayor: “George Ramos was tough. He fought and was wounded in Vietnam. He was a diabetic but ran marathons . . . Beneath that big mustache of his, that big smile was a big heart.”
At the Los Angeles Times, Ramos contributions as a reporter, editor and columnist helped the paper win three Pulitzer Prizes. In 2003, he left the Times and joined the faculty of his alma mater.
In addition to excelling in his profession, George Ramos was passionate about helping young people of color join the ranks of journalism. He was a founding member of the California Chicano News Media Association, now called the CCNMA Latino Journalists, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He was inducted into the NAHJ Hall of Fame in 2007.
Year after year, George Ramos could be seen coaching and mentoring students during the conventions, participating in workshops and sitting on panels. He made financial donations and provided inspiration to hundreds of young journalists.
One of his former students, Bich Ngoc Cao, had this to say: “The world knew George Ramos as a fierce reporter and editor who’d earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam and won three Pulitzers for the Los Angeles Times. His “kids” knew him as a tough teacher who demanded that we drop his course the first day if we weren’t going to hack it. He was all of those things, and more – his big heart, mischievous smile and intense spirit made him a beloved mentor and friend to many. He may have died last week, but his legacy lives within us.”
This is just one of a myriad remembrances in the Facebook page “Remembering George Ramos” – an outpouring of love and appreciation for a man who has left behind a gigantic and unforgettable legacy. A legacy that Manny De La Rosa, vice president of Broadcast for NAHJ who was a student and friend of George, promises to carry on: “You know a part of me died when George died. It won’t be the same without him at an NAHJ conference, but we can’t quit now. We must carry on his legacy. We must mentor and help young people get into the business, just like he did. More importantly, keep in contact with and be that big brother or big sister to keep young Latinos in the industry. I am ready to carry the torch George held for so long. I know there are literally thousands of others on whom he had an impact who are ready to join me.”
Rest in peace George Ramos and thank you!