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November 4, 2011

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Ramos memorial held by journalism faculty

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The Cal Poly journalism faculty held an open memorial for the late journalism professor George Ramos as part of their department meeting Friday morning. Cal Poly Athletics media director Brian Thurmond moderated the session and opened with remarks about his longtime friend. Thurmond said though there was a memorial for Ramos after he died last summer, there was a need for a second one that more students and faculty could attend. “This was an opportunity for students and faculty to have another memorial,” he said. “It was appropriate.”

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The original memorial, Thurmond said, surprised him with stories about how many lives Ramos

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had touched. Ramos was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years, where he had a part in three Pullitzer Prize winning articles. He was a fierce reporter in Los Angeles, and was known for working with and inspiring young Latino journalists, those at the memorial said. College of Liberal Arts associate dean Debra Valencia-Laver, who is also a member of the Chicana Latino Faculty Staff Association said Ramos defied the odds with his Pullitzer win for a series on Latinos in Southern California. “He was influential to Latino and Hispanic journalists all across California,” she said. Ramos also served as a captain in the army during the Vietnam War. “He didn’t believe in the war, and it was very hard for him to talk about it,” said Karen Velie, a reporter who Ramos taught at Cal Poly and later went on to work with at her website, Cal Coast News. Several of Ramos’ friends and co-workers shared stories of their times with Ramos and memories they shared with him. Journalism professor Bill Loving, who followed Ramos as chair of the department, said he had a lot to live up to when he took over.

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“There wasn’t anything I could have done that George hadn’t already done,” Loving said.

Are you ready for finals? Loving said that though Ramos would sometimes complain about serving under a new chair, he would always get the job done. “He stepped up, he carried the weight,” Loving said. “He called himself our burro. He would do it because that’s who George was.” Teresa Allen, another journalism professor at Cal Poly, said at the memorial that Ramos, “was like a bull in a china shop. He was a breath of fresh air in the stodginess of academia.” In addition to his duties at Cal Poly, Ramos worked with students and reporters on the central coast in an editorial position at Cal Coast News.

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View Results Ramos joined Cal Coast News as Velie’s editor after she came to him with what she said was an article filled with grammatical and spelling errors. The two started writing together in bars, with Ramos working for nothing more than beer, Velie said. Velie alerted police after the site’s staff could not contact Ramos for several days in July, according to Cal Coast News. Police found his body in a hallway in his home, and determined he died of natural causes. The George Ramos Cal Poly Journalism Endowment fund will be established in his honor.

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TAGS: Brian Thurmond, CalCoastNews.com, George Ramos, journalism department, Sean McMinn, Vietnam War

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ASI BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING 11/2

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Sean McMinn is a journalism sophomore and Mustang Daily staff writer.

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