Raul Ramirez, reporting from a Honduran refugee camp, circa 1984. The children had fled mass murders in a Salvadoran village. Raul not only wrote their stories, he helped guarantee their safety by helping them return home. (Photo courtesy Adam Kufeld)
Raul Ramirez, reporting from a Honduran refugee camp, circa 1984. The children had fled mass murders in a Salvadoran village. Raul not only wrote their stories, he helped guarantee their safety by helping them return home. (Photo courtesy Adam Kufeld)

By David Weir and Patricia Yollin

Raul Ramirez, executive director of news and public affairs at KQED Public Radio and a remarkable journalist, teacher and mentor known throughout the Bay Area journalism community and beyond, has died.

Ramirez had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late July and died this morning at age 67 at his home in Berkeley. He was born in 1946 in Havana. In April 1962, more than three years after the Cuban revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, Ramirez’s parents — disillusioned by what they perceived as Fidel Castro’s failed promises — sent him and his sister to live with relatives in South Florida. He first started to explore journalism as a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville; he once told a colleague that he had studied it to improve his English. In the process, he discovered his calling.

Ramirez’s newspaper days began in the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s, when he reported for the Miami Herald, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Examiner. He gained a reputation for immersing himself in the subjects that he covered, always seeking to gain in-depth understanding before publishing. In 1970, he wrote a prize-winning series for the Wall Street Journal about farmworkers in Michigan after working in the fields alongside them. At the Miami Herald, he accompanied undercover agents on raids of suspected heroin dealers. And for a San Francisco Examiner article on jail conditions, he worked several days as a deputy sheriff.

In May 1976, after months of investigation, Ramirez and freelance journalist Lowell Bergman broke a story for the Examiner about a Chinatown gang murder case titled “How Lies Sent Youth to Prison for Murder.” The article detailed how an assistant district attorney and two police inspectors had pressured witnesses into lying, resulting in the conviction of Richard Lee. The three law enforcement officers sued the Examiner, Bergman and Ramirez for libel, seeking $30 million in damages.

When the Examiner, then owned by the Hearst Corp., refused to provide counsel for the freelancer Bergman, leaving him without representation, Ramirez as a matter of principle and conscience refused to be represented by the Examiner’s lawyer and joined with Bergman to seek outside counsel. A group of journalists and lawyers rallied around the two reporters and raised enough money to hire a lawyer and fight the case. Though they initially lost in Superior Court and were ordered to pay $4.56 million in damages, Bergman and Ramirez spent the next decade fighting the verdict. Ultimately, the libel ruling was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 1986. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that decision, ending the matter once and for all.

Ramirez in his office at KQED.
Ramirez in his office at KQED. (Ian Hill/KQED)

Ramirez has long been a central figure in many Bay Area journalism institutions. For many years he served as president of the board of directors of the Center for Investigative Reporting during a difficult period in the 1990s, when the organization had to rebuild after losing staff and funding. He was also a fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, as well as at the University of Hawaii’s School of Pacific and Asian Studies.

He taught for many years at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley, where he inspired students with his classes in introductory journalism and investigative reporting. Many have gone on to successful reporting careers at KQED, NPR and other media outlets.  He also led investigative reporting and civic journalism training workshops in the Netherlands as well as training workshops in several Ukrainian locations.

Ramirez ventured into broadcast journalism for the first time in 1991 when he was hired as news director for KQED Public Radio. He was later promoted to executive director of news and public affairs. In his 22 years at KQED, he was instrumental in building it into a top-rated public radio station and leading its award-winning state and regional news service. Today, KQED’s broadcast and online coverage includes KQED News, KQEDnews.org, “Forum” and “The California Report.” Its statewide service operates news bureaus in Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles.

He also was executive producer of “Pacific Time,” a program that explored the ideas, trends and cultural patterns flowing between Asia and North America. “Pacific Time” aired for seven years before ending in 2007.

During his career, Ramirez received many honors and recognitions, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter, and most recently from the same organization the 2013 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. He was deeply committed to preserving the high standards of journalistic integrity, public service and investigative reporting, and diversity in journalism. Recently, dozens of KQED colleagues sent Ramirez a tribute honoring his great breadth of ideas, his commitment to journalism ethics and his kindness as a colleague, supervisor and friend.

Raul Ramirez is survived by his husband, Tony Wu; the couple married on Oct.18, 2013, in San Leandro. He is also survived by his sister, Miriam Gargiulo of West Palm Beach, Fla.; two brothers, Michael Greenhill of Wellington, Fla., and Eduardo Ramirez of Reddick, Fla.; three nephews and three nieces.

As one of his final acts, Ramirez established the Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund at San Francisco State University. The fund will be administered by the Journalism Department, where Ramirez taught for 30 years. Ramirez told department leaders that he wanted the money to be used to honor a journalism student whose work demonstrated the importance of promoting diversity in journalism.

In lieu of flowers or other tributes, Ramirez hoped that those who wish to honor his memory will contribute to the fund. (Select “Other” from the drop-down menu of “I Would Like to Support” and type into the text box. Enter Designation: “The Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund.”) Plans for a memorial service are underway and will be announced at a later date.

Remembering Raul

Since he joined KQED in 1991, Raul has played a central role in expanding and shaping KQED news and public affairs. Raul’s commitment to journalism ethics was a major influence on all of the work we’ve done at KQED. He insisted on fact-based, accurate reporting that avoided the sensational and, instead, told meaningful stories about the impact of news and issues on the lives of ordinary people. Raul was a man of ideas, and he had a huge heart. He cared deeply about colleagues and friends he worked with. Our reporters and producers, hosts and news anchors loved talking with him about stories, ideas and coverage they wanted to do in the future. He directed the newsroom day to day, and he mentored and taught his staff to become better journalists. He will be missed extraordinarily by all of us at KQED.

— Jo Anne Wallace, VP and General Manager KQED Public Radio

We at KQED Radio have lost our leader, our guide, our moral compass. For those of us who knew him and had the privilege of working with him, the loss is profound. Raul was also one of the finest human beings I have ever had the good fortune to know. Raul had more integrity, humanity, decency, strength of character and goodness in him than nearly anyone I have ever known. He was beloved by many of us who worked with him, and if you are fortunate enough to meet someone in your lifetime who even comes close to having the qualities Raul had, then you, too, will remain filled with reverent memories of that person to your dying day. Many of us will always remember Raul for his inimitable spirit, and the passion and excellence he brought to his work and to our lives. We admired him for his wisdom and compassion, high-minded principles and grace. We have learned from him – for, of his many gifts, perhaps the most precious was his ability to live an exemplary, inspirational and honorable life. We will miss him far more than words can ever say.

— Michael Krasny, Host of “Forum”

Raul Ramirez had a terrific mix of characteristics that added up to one amazing talent.  He had an unwavering sense of outrage over people who had been wronged, along with a healthy skepticism of those with power and influence. He had all the skills of a sensational reporter: a tremendous curiosity about everyone and every place, the ability to listen, and the tremendous talent as a writer. He had friends all over the world. He was living proof that it was a profession with a higher calling, but one that you could fall in love with while at the same time making a difference in the lives of everyone you touched. Because that’s what he did. Despite having the skepticism of a great journalist, he somehow managed to be an eternal optimist.  He loved life and worked hard to enjoy it to the fullest.

— Larry Kramer, President and Publisher of USA Today

(In 1975) in the stark fluorescent-lit newsroom of the old San Francisco Examiner, Raul turned to me and reported: “I have been told not to talk to you anymore.” But (he) refused to abandon our story. … Raul threw his own job to the wind and refused to accept the company decision … to abandon me. He joined me in defending our story. Raul’s willingness to stand up not only led to a lifelong friendship; it provides an example of selfless dedication to principle that never ceases to inspire me. Whenever I waver, whenever I need to stiffen my backbone about whether to do what’s right, I say to myself, “I am Raul Ramirez!”

— Lowell Bergman, Graduate School of Journalism UC Berkeley.

A conversation with Raul Ramirez was the equivalent of reading a great book. His passion for and knowledge about societal issues, journalism, ethics, cultures — really about all things important in life — amazed me every time. Raul’s voice was steady and strong, helping make the rest of us smarter and better.

– Robert M. Steele, DePauw University

Raul was on the forefront of the movement to promote diversity in journalism. He insisted that journalism students think about the people and communities who were most often left out of news stories. In 1994, Raul was part of a team of journalists who helped me conduct a national study into how news media coverage of communities of color was flawed by stereotypes and other problems. The San Francisco State University study was released at the historic Unity ’94 joint conference of African-American, Asian-American, Latino and Native-American journalists. Raul’s thoughtful analysis contributed to the success and credibility of the study. Because of his stellar reputation, Raul was often asked to review journalism schools seeking accreditation, and he used that position as another way to stress the importance of diversity in journalism. We have lost a powerful and important voice in journalism, but I believe that Raul has left an important legacy by developing and shaping young new journalists.

— Jon Funabiki, San Francisco State University

Raul knows Asia and Asian-American affairs. He gets it. It was reassuring to work with such an editor. At a cafe, on a ride in his car, at a small restaurant, on the phone at 2 a.m., as well as in the office, Raul always made you feel like you were doing something right. Without Raul, no “Pacific Time.” We all worked at it, and many made it possible. But “Pacific Time” was what it was because Raul was firmly behind it. “Pacific Time” is grateful to Raul.

— Nguyen Qui Duc, Host “Pacific Time”

Raul was a natural teacher. He loved journalism and was eager to share his experiences and his skills with his students. His classes were an exchange more than a lecture. An atmosphere of respect permeated his teaching — respect for what journalism could be when practiced at its best, respect for the students’ insights and for their potential. He set high standards and gave critiques that helped them achieve high levels many didn’t think they could reach.

As with his colleagues in all the places where he worked, Raul’s students came to know and like him. Inevitably, they learned from him not only the basics of journalism, or the skills of investigative reporting, but also from observation of him as teacher and journalist many of them learned what it is to be a good person, a person of integrity.

– Betty Medsger, journalist and educator, former chair of SFSU’s Department of Journalism

Please feel free to share your memories in “comments” below.

  • John Myers, KQED 2003-2012

    I lost a dear friend and mentor today, and California lost one of its best journalistic minds and hearts. Raul Ramirez was the man who believed in me by hiring me to cover the state Capitol in 2003 and who supported and inspired me every step of the way afterwards. For KQED’s listeners, his may only be name you know from the credits of tens of thousands of hours of incredible radio journalism. To those who had the honor of working with him, Raul was a singular force in our professional lives. My heart is with my KQED friends on Raul’s passing…

  • Jeffrey Dvorkin

    My condolences to Raul’s husband and the KQED family. I met Raul when I came to NPR as VP News in 1997. From the first, Raul was generous and welcoming. His standards of journalism were always wonderfully high and I relied on his good counsel regularly. When I became NPR’s first ombudsman, I would look forward to asking Raul for his help in dealing with complex issues especially around questions relating to diversity, California politics and the usual questions of NPR-station relations. Since moving back to Canada, a few years ago, we lost contact, and I am sorry for that. Raul was one of the people who made public broadcasting the gold standard for all of us. May the KQED family not know any more sorrow.

  • Peter Sussman

    A huge loss. Raul was a fine person, a conscientious, imaginative and independent journalist and a generous mentor and colleague. Above all, he cared, in every sense of the word.

  • Peter Sussman

    P.S. Would you please add a link to the memorial diversity fund?

    • Peter Sussman

      Thank you.

    • Peter Sussman

      Sorry, but the link appears to be incomplete. I got “Page Not Found.” I’d like not only to contribute but to help spread the word to as many people as possible who were touched by Raul and his work.

  • Adam Cimino

    These are amazing photos and great words. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Rob Waters

    Such a loss. Raul was truly one of the finest journalists and human beings I’ve known. I feel blessed to have known and worked with him. I hired Raul as a trainer in the mid-1980s when I was editing the Tenderloin Times newspaper to train the people — southeast Asian refugees and volunteers — we had hired as reporters. He inspired and helped them and all of us immensely. We had some token funding and paid him for a few months. When the money ran out, Raul continued doing the trainings for free for months or more. Later, when I started teaching a journalism class at San Francisco State while working full-time the summer my son was born, Raul shared with me his me his curriculum and his invaluable wisdom and guidance. Raul touched many, many people directly and indirectly. The lucky ones are those that knew him but so many people have been touched and informed and moved by his work as a deeply caring and profoundly ethical teacher, journalist and human being. Peace, my friend.

  • Guest

    Raul was one oft favorite teachers at sfsu (class of ’96). I admittedly strived for his approval not because I wanted him to like me but because I wanted to be like him: a person of true integrity. He encouraged my first investigative article about how the sfpd handled same-sex domestic violence calls…I poured through data and discovered the police reports often classified the as “mutual combat” and police had little training. I only realized today , reading of this great loss that he was part of a pivotal moment for me where I saw the power of journalism in the equal rights movement.

  • Roseryn Bhudsabourg

    To access the SFSU Office of University Development’s online donation platform, please use this link: http://www.sfsu.edu/~develop/makeagift.htm Select “Other” from the drop-down menu of “I Would Like to Support” and type into the text box: “The Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund.”

  • Michael V. Marcotte

    This is a terrible loss. I always considered Raul a friend as well as professional colleague. He was instrumental in encouraging me to take the news manager job at KPBS in San Diego, which I later discovered was part of a brilliant and successful plan to build a greater public radio system in California. We collaborated on many projects and I was always inspired by his high standards and principles. Moreover, he was a true champion of diversity — in all its forms — and personally served as a mentor and model to many. He was a
    true gentleman. I shall miss him.

  • Carol Brydolf

    I worked with Raul at the Oakland Tribune. He was funny, smart and gentle. He taught me a great deal about how to be a person and a reporter.

  • Courtney Macavinta

    Raul was one oft favorite teachers at sfsu (class of ’96). I admittedly strived for his approval not because I wanted him to like me but because I wanted to be like him: a person of true integrity. He encouraged my first investigative article about how the sfpd handled same-sex domestic violence calls…I poured through data and discovered the police reports often classified the as “mutual combat” and police had little training. It was a big story for a 20yrold! I only realized today, reading of this great loss of Raul, that he was part of a pivotal moment for me, a young Latina, where I saw the power of journalism to always fuel the equal rights for all movement. It’s still my calling through The Respect Institute. I’m so grateful he set up his fund at SFSU and will encourage my cohorts to contribute. He was a trailblazer and worker among workers, who loved young people. He was honest. He was a good man. He showed us you can ask tough questions and question the status quo while still opening your heart.

  • Rebecca Rosen Lum

    To be in Bay Area journalism was to see Raul frequently because in addition to putting 150 percent of himself into his work he always found the time and the intellectual energy to present at a conference or give a workshop or a talk. He had a tremendous amount of intellectual energy. Any talk by Raul was enlightening, and often surprising as he drove us to look deeper, to perceive more keenly, to see any news story in its authentic cultural context. He was one daring reporter and he was also one of the most honest human beings I ever met. It’s a damn sad day and I just hate like hell to see him go. What a huge, huge loss.

  • Suzanne Marmion, KPBS

    Respect from us here at KPBS in San Diego, for a great journalist. Raul was the news director when I got my start in public media as an intern at KQED. He was charming, and fierce. Just right for a defender of the public’s right to know.

  • Austin Long-Scott

    Fearless, determined, honest, inspiring, loved teaching, a gentle man standing tall against mediocrity. Committed to quality, inclusion, depth, context, caring, truth. We always needed more like him.

  • Philip and Deirdre

    We’ve known Raul for a long time, not closely, and not as a journalist or teacher, but as a neighbor across the street. Our every encounter over the years was positive; he was simply a warm, caring, positive person, modest despite his many achievements, who had the gift of making you feel as if he was genuinely interested in you and what you had to say. We will miss his gentle presence on our street, and we hope that Tony and everyone else close to Raul knows that our thoughts are with them.

  • William Wong

    Raul and I were colleagues at the Oakland Tribune in the early 1980s in the heady days of the legendary Robert C. Maynard’s newsroom leadership. Raul and I were part of Maynard’s infusion of racial and ethnic diversity in a newsroom that had few “minority” staff members. Raul was a fierce reporter, broad gauged, big thinker, and a wonderful human being. I lost touch with him in the early ’90s but have thought of him often as a great journalist and professional colleague.

  • Thomas Figg-Hoblyn

    What an amazing man, and what an amazing life! Raul you lived the dream. God bless. I will miss you Raul, but I am sure your in a better place right now.

  • Robert Hernandez

    Raul was my professor (SFSU), mentor and friend. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for many, many years throughout the different stages of my journalistic education and career… he help shaped me into the journalist — and journalism professor (USC) — I am today.

    As my career blossomed through digital journalism, we had great conversations about the challenges we both faced as we navigated modern journalism. He always tried to make time for me… to hear me out… to mentor me.

    His passing is an ENORMOUS loss… he influenced so many people with his dedication to journalism and what is right.

    My deepest condolences to Tony and Raul’s family. He was a great man. (He would probably grade me down for not referring to him as Ramirez in this comment.)

  • John Howes

    A had Raul for Newswriting and Reporting thirty years ago when he first started teaching at SFSU. His passion for life, journalism and justice was an inspiration to me. It has probably been twenty eight years since I last saw him, but I still have vivid memories of him. He was an amazing person that I will never forget.

  • Betty Medsger

    We could praise Raul endlessly for his wonderful qualities as a journalist. But perhaps his greatest gift was the gift of friendship. He was an amazing and loving friend. For the many people who called him friend, our hearts are broken. Our lives will be enriched forever for having known him, and we will always remember him. Love to all, especially to Tony.

  • Joe Manio

    Raul was my professor at San Francisco State University (I graduated in the class of 1993). In the “Yin and Yang” balance of my teachers there, Raul was a “nurturer” (as compared to the “drill sergeants” I had–who were effective in their own right). Another excellent journalist and outstanding human being taken from us too soon by that dreaded disease. Raul will be sorely missed by not only those who knew him personally–but all those he touched through his work. Vaya con Dios, Raul.

  • Janet Gwilym

    Raul was a dear friend, long ago housemate, groomsman in my wedding, and teacher of silly songs from his Cuban childhood. He was always inquisitive and interested in every person he met. He was so passionate about his work because he truly cared about people, especially those who were marginalized or experiencing injustice. His spirit has touched and inspired so many!

    • Norm Ngim

      Those were the days when the 4 of you were in the Berkeley house.

  • TimDoyle

    I always heard his name listening to the credits portion of KQED’s Forum ….I never knew or met the man. I am glad to hear and read these tributes of him. I wish I had met him. He sounds like a true hero and star. Peace.

    • Norm Ngim

      Yes, really a nice guy.

  • Steve Sauls

    I would suggest that Raul’s journalism career began when he was a student at Palm Beach Community College and wh
    ere he was given a low mark on a paper the teacher had complimented because she didn’t believe it was possible for a Cuban to write so well. It continued at the University of Florida where he became Editor in Chief of the award winning Florida Alligator, the student newspaper. He won first place nationally in the Hearst student writing contest and his career was on it’s way. I met him while covering the Republican National Convention in 1972 as the then Alligator Editor. A month later, we both moved to Washington, D.C. He has been a mentor and friend for more than 40 years and will be deeply missed. I know of no journalist with more commitment to the integrity of his profession.

    • linda creesy

      i never met raul but in some small way he helped me make my decision whether to go to uf or fsu after graduating from junior college. i would take both the alligator and flambeau home with me to read. and although, i was offered an editor’s job at the flambeau, i chose uf and the alligator because of the quality of the newspaper. i only lasted a quarter at uf because of bad grades. but i treasure my brief time at the alligator.

  • djovida, KQED 1977-2013

    I’m saddened by this news. I had many conversations with Raul during my years at KQED. My condolences.

  • Jeb Sharp PRI’s The World

    I remember meeting Raul when he came to the Berkeley J-School when I was a student there to talk about the Examiner’s “Gay in America” series. It must have been 1989 or 1990. He was co-editor of the series I think and it was of course way ahead of its time. Later we crossed paths in various public radio ways and he was always warm and supportive and enthusiastic. He must have touched so many hearts and careers. Condolences to his loved ones and everyone at KQED.

  • robert rosenthal

    When I think of Raul I think of a beautiful tapestry. A Tapestry woven from many fine threads, some of which complemented each other, some of which contradicted each other. Thing of the gentle, charming, empathetic, creative, compassionate threads that wove into his life and the lives of all he touched. Then think of the steel threads of persistence, determination,integrity, and fearlessness that were what he not only stood for but helped him achieve his success, a success he shared with so many. From everyone at The Center for Investigative Reporting who knew and worked with Raul, over many years, and for his leadership and connection to CIR we say thank you. You made us made us better journalists and human beings. You opened our eyes to the possible and you taught us in many ways. Our condolences to your family,your colleagues and the so many of us you touched and helped. And most of all we thank you for the tapestry you have left behind for all of us. A tapestry that we can always admire, find solace in, and most importantly continue to learn from.

  • Carol S

    I knew Raul from UF and The Florida Alligator, loved him then and will forevermore. A beautiful human being with the courage of a warrior and the passionate soul of a poet. My dear friend, my own personal Lord Byron.

    • Steve Sauls

      He would be pleased to read your post, Carol. We talked about you when he visited earlier this year.

      • Carol S

        Thank you, Steve. That makes me feel good to know he still thought of me.

  • Flo Hernandez-Ramos, LPRC

    Raul was one of the founding members of the Latino Public
    Radio Consortium and remained on its Board of Directors until 2013. In 2007 he and his compañeros dared dream that Latinos would play a much more central role in public broadcasting than they had in past. By helping to form LPRC, Raul worked wholeheartedly toward that goal and wrote the organization’s seminal piece “The Brown Paper.” The dream is coming true as the existing full power and low power Latino-controlled non-commercial stations continue to serve people of color and general market stations begin to recognize the necessity of reflecting a multicultural nation through their programming and employment practices.

    But this multidimensional, dare we say renaissance, man was also known for his “foodie” tendencies, his expertise with wine and his inner nerd that made him susceptible to new technology. And no one walks away from a conversation
    with Raul without having cracked a smile, guffawed or even squirted water out
    the nose because something Raul said was sooo funny. Remember that whole conversation about “el columpeo del amor”?

    Raul is a key figure in the roster of Latinos in public radio and is part of the history of the Latino Public Radio Consortium just as we are part of his legacy. Via a website
    called Raul’s Community at http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com,hundreds from all over the world are sending messages of support, praise, comfort, hope and condolence. Scrolling through the comments and messages, one gets a sense of Raul’s positive impact on everything he was involved with and the height of the pedestal upon which he has been placed by those who knew him or of his work.

    To all these testimonials, the Latino Public Radio Consortium can only add a humble thank you. Thank you, Raul, for your leadership through example, your passion, your
    humor and for “representing!”

    Keep Raul in your prayers because as Raul said “Good positive thoughts freely and gratefully accepted.”

  • Karen B. Dunlap, Poynter

    I, too, am so sorry to hear of Raul’s death. He was a man of dignity and wisdom with a passion for journalism. It was good to be around him; I was always grateful when he spent time at Poynter. May we carry on his ideals. Peace

  • Joe Bruns

    I worked at KQED with Raul from 1998 – 2001. In addition to being a consummate professional journalist, he was also generous with his time and advice to me, a newcomer to public broadcasting. He knew that I had worked with Radio Marti earlier in my career, and we shared many great stories and laughs about the complexities of Cuban-American politics. While I have moved on from KQED, I have fond memories of my time there, and the warmth and humor of Raul. He will be badly missed.

  • Harry Lin, KQED-FM 1990-1996

    Rest in peace, Raul. Thank you for your service to the community.

  • Eloisa

    A very sad loss. I am a Pedro Pan also. Was his second last name Bernal?

    • Gerald Shenk

      Yes, his mother’s last name was Bernal.

      • Eloisa

        You may wish to see his profile page on The Miami Herald Pedro Pan Network, link below. I posted the obituary there.
        http://www.miamiherald.com/cgi-bin/pedropan/profile/8328

        • Gerald Shenk

          Thank you, Eloisa. It would be nice to get more details on his experience leaving Cuba and arriving in Florida in 1962. I believe that his first published story was an account of that experience written while he was in high school in W. Palm Beach. It had details about getting approved for the flight out, the flight itself, and his first encounters with U.S. culture. He showed this to me many years ago. I believe it was published in one of those weekly news periodicals distributed to public schools in the 60s. It would be nice if someone could find this and post it.

        • CarolineJenkins

          The story of the Pedro Pan children is filled with American success stories. The Cuban immigration has been a good thing for the United States.

  • Norm Ngim

    My brother, my brother’s high school friend and his wife were housemates with Raul in the 80’s. I knew Raul was a prominent journalist with the Tribune and Examiner, but I didn’t have any inkling of the enormity of his accomplishments back then and since. Raul was always busy at home pounding away at his IBM PC. It seemed like he subscribed to as many periodicals as a library. I remember going out to eat, listening to music, going to a Yoko Ono concert when visiting. One amusing story is that Raul drove an old Saab. He went out and bought a new Honda. Not long after, he traded it in and got another Saab. Raul was pleasant and down to earth and seemed to make time to do things outside of work. I hadn’t seen him in many years, but I was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing.

  • Helen Barrington

    While I was only acquainted with Raul, I observed from the other side of the country the remarkable work being done at KQED. That work happens with talented staff AND good leadership. I was in several national meetings with Raul and always appreciated his incisive insights, particularly when evaluating programming. The staff of New England Public Radio (WFCR/WNNZ) sends condolences to all those whose lives were touched and impacted by Raul. Our industry is much enriched by having had him as a colleague.
    Helen Barrington, Program Director; NEPR, Amherst MA

  • Heather Dean

    My condolences to all who knew him. He was clearly an accomplished and valued journalist. His legacy will live on and continue to inspire and uplift many. May he rest in peace.

  • Cynthia Robins

    Raul was one of the first of the old Examiner gang to even speak to me when I was hired by Reg Murphy in 1977. Almost immediately, there were union meetings voting for a strike. I think I’d been there maybe two or three months. I was sitting next to Raul in the mieeting and when they called for a vote, I just sat there. He poked me in the side and whispered, “Put your hand up,” in such a way that I had to comply. He explained to me about union unanimity and standing fast together. I have never forgotten his fervor and dedication, help and advice he gave this green green reporter. He was always a handsome hidalgo to me (he’d probably laugh at the image), the courtly Latin man with manners to burn, dedication to causes, gentleness and strength.

  • John D’Anna

    Raul was one of my editors at the Oakland Tribune in the mid-1980s. He was a demanding but patient editor who refused to let cynicism overcome his humanity. I am a better journalist and a better human being for having known him.

  • Bob Fry

    Heard his name said many times, never know who he was…remarkable life.

    “The article detailed how an assistant district attorney and two police
    inspectors had pressured witnesses into lying, resulting in the
    conviction of Richard Lee.” What happened to the conviction?

  • robert lopez

    Raul was one of my first mentors in the journalism business. He was on the faculty for the Summer Program for Minority Journalists, which I attended in 1989 at UC Berkeley. He helped guide me that summer and continued to provide advice during my first reporting job at the Oakland Tribune. I saw him over the years at various journalism conventions. He was a great guy and a journalist dedicated to diversifying our newsrooms. He will be missed.

    –Robert Lopez, Los Angeles Times

  • Harold Caplan, KQED 1990-2011

    It was always such fun to talk with Raul. When I worked late, I would often stop in his office to have a more relaxed conversation — no deadlines, no ringing phone. I miss those days.

  • Jeff Okey

    Raul was such a kind man and a fine journalist. I will celebrate his legacy in the face of this great loss. My condolences to his husband, family and colleagues.

  • jr

    RIP Raul. I still remember having that dream, rather nightmare, where I saw your red pen marks on all of my assignments for your class– every page I turned. You were such a hard ass professor in real life and for good reasons. Thank you for everything.

  • Isabel Alegria

    I join the many who are mourning the loss of Raul today, a great journalist, a formidable defender of human rights a great friend. I remember well his support and encouraging presence at KQED, and watching with admiration and deep respect, as he led the news team to the excellence that has so enriched all of our lives for all these years.

  • Diana Matar

    Raul was my first journalism professor many many years ago. He told us “we do this to give voice to the voiceless.” His words have shaped my career to this day. Everyone who knew Raul will miss his bravery, dignity, and moral compass that pointed in the direction of justice. Diana Matar

  • Paul Glickman

    What an amazing tribute to Raul everyone has created here. Raul and I worked together on projects that brought together KQED and KPCC, the sister station in LA. We became friends, but I wish I had had the opportunity to know him better. Raul has left an incredible legacy; not only did he do a lot of important journalism, but he clearly inspired a generation of journalists whom he taught and/or mentored. I have a question: does anyone know more about Raul’s time in Honduras? I was there from 84-86 and I also reported from Salvadoran camps.

  • Judy

    I heard his name often but never realized his importance and contribution.

    Be well, Mr Ramirez, you made a difference in the world. One person can make a difference, and wow, you did. Thank you.

  • Randall Lam

    Rather than being a member of the journalistic society, I
    knew Raul as a giving, loyal friend, a former confidant for most the years
    since we met in 1976. He gave me solace
    when my brother drowned in 81; he came to my dad’s funeral in 98 (without ever having met him). We shared the peaks and valleys of our lives. He lived his personal life like he lived his
    professional life, never wavering from displaying the utmost honesty, generosity, reliability, commitment, and a highly positive
    and active spirit that few could maintain at his intense level. His sensitivity, dedication, concern, and
    loyalty towards his personal friends was unparalleled and some of us were lucky
    enough have that relationship. In his
    short 67 years, he lived a terribly rich life in experiences
    that connected him with countless people, and took him all over the world, that trickled down to enrich us, too. He was a cornerstone of my life, a contemporary whose affect and influence on me I am only realizing now, It cannot be measured nor replaced. Raul truly touched the lives of so many people
    at so many levels. His absence is
    deep. I miss him dearly.

  • Bill Buzenberg

    I knew that whenever I would run into Raul, there would be that beautiful smile of his, and that somewhat sly baritone voice with a warm greeting. He made always made me feel good about everything, especially the business of journalism. I first knew him in the public radio world, as a station news director and a program representative for KQED when I was at NPR News, and later MPR. We had many good associations and collaborations, and Raul was always on the right side of the discussion, always pushing for the right values leading to important and significant work. To me, he was a journalist’s journalist–the best of our breed. Simply a great soul who will be sorely missed.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor