Los Angeles City Council adjourns in memory of George Ramos

July 26, 2011

The Los Angeles City Council adjourned today’s meeting in memory of George Ramos, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, columnist and editor for the Los Angeles Times, Cal Poly professor, and CalCoastNews editor who was more comfortable referring to himself as “the kid from East L.A.”

Ramos, who suffered from increased complications from diabetes, was found dead at his home in Morro Bay Saturday. He was 63.

“George was a tenacious reporter and a brilliant story teller who always wrote from the heart,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “A proud son of the Eastside, he intimately captured the Latino experience in Los Angeles and never lost sight of the human dimension in journalism. He will be greatly missed but his legacy and enduring love for our City will live on through the many young journalists he mentored throughout
the years.”

Ramos was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 1947. He grew up in Belvedere Garden, a neighborhood he described in a 1984 Pulitzer Prize series story as an East L.A. hillside barrio inhabited by “poor but proud people” with “hopes as resilient as tall wheat in a summer breeze.” Ramos graduated from Garfield High School and attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1969. He joined the Vietnam War effort, serving in the U.S. Army from March 1970 to September 1971 in West Germany and South Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart after suffering a leg wound.

“I first met George over the phone when I was studying in Oxford more than 15 years ago and recently saw him on Memorial Day at Cinco Puntos.  In the intervening years, I came to appreciate his unique perspective on issues facing our great city.  His death is a loss for us all,” said Council President Eric Garcetti.

First District Councilmember Ed P. Reyes said: “George Ramos was a street reporter, passionate and fiery, who constantly searched for the human side of the news. We will miss his ability to seek truth. It’s a perspective that’s needed now more than ever and we will miss him.”

Ramos joined the L.A. Times in 1978 after working for Copley News Service and the San Diego Union. During his career at the Times, he went on to win three Pulitzer Prizes, an honor only a handful of Latino reporters has accomplished in journalism history.

“As a teacher, journalist and veteran, George Ramos was a friend and mentor to many,” said Fourteenth District Councilmember José Huizar. “His influence crossed generations. His keen intellect, sharp sense of humor and deep sense of humanity will be dearly missed. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to see all his gifts displayed at our annual Veterans’ Memorial commemoration at Cinco Puntos in Boyle Heights, which George participated in numerous times. My thoughts and prayers go out to all mourning the loss of this great man.”

Tenth District Councilmember Herb Wesson said:  “George Ramos had roots in many communities, and the fact that he cared about those communities was reflected in his writing.  He was a fine journalist, and a great role model.  The many young journalists he trained, and who maintain his high standards, are the important legacy he leaves us.”

“George Ramos had a monumental impact because he was fearless in seeking out the truth and sharing it with the public.  I am among the many fans who greatly admired him for his journalistic skills, personal and professional integrity and incredible dedication. Most of all, I appreciate how much he accomplished not just through the printed word but through his own humanity, as he was a wonderful and caring person who mentored countless others, giving them tools and wisdom with which to build a better career, life and world,” said Fifth District Councilmember Paul Koretz.

Ramos and former Times editor Frank Sotomayor were co-editors of a groundbreaking series on Latinos in Southern California that won the paper the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service in 1984. Seventeen Latino journalists worked on the 27-part series. Ramos also was part of the Times reporting teams that were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Seventh District Councilmember Richard Alarcón said: “Molded by the mentorship of Rubén Salazar and Frank del Olmo, George Ramos had a very personal connection to his Los Angeles roots and his writing reflected this.

By embracing his background, Ramos helped shape the conscience of Los Angeles.”

In 2003, Ramos left the Times to return to San Luis Obispo where he served as Cal Poly Journalism Department Chair. Ramos, a mentor to young Latino reporters, also served as president of the California Chicano News Media Association and was inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame in 2007. Ramos returned to the teaching ranks and continued to serve as the faculty advisor to the Mustang Daily, the student newspaper. He also volunteered as an editor for CalCoastNews, a San Luis Obispo-based website. He admitted, however, that he missed Los Angeles.

Ramos was quoted as saying: “I can’t just sit on my laurels. I didn’t get into journalism for the rewards. I still consider myself as the kid from East L.A.”

George Ramos, the kid from East L.A., served Los Angeles well, the city said in a press release.

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May his legacy live on in the astute reportage of Cal Coast News and crew!

I agree with Tacoma Rose. CalCoastNews is important.

So true! The amount of corruption in our local governments is staggering, and it is critical that the press continue to expose it. Cal Coast News has been doing a great job.

May the soul of a good man, a proud man and a courageous man rest in peace.

During your walk on earth know that ya done good George!

It is only appropriate that we ask the staff of CalCoastNews to honor Georges memory by continuing their investigative work against the corruption that tears the fabric of our communities.