RAMON S. VELEZdied on November 30, 2008 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 75 in New York City. Ramon was born on April 19, 1933, in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, the son of a poor farmer. He graduated from Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and studied law at the University of Salamanca in Spain. Ramon joined the National Guard and served in Panama for 5 years in the 33rd Infantry Regiment. When the Korean War began, he was activated and transferred to the 65th Infantry Regiment and served in Company “L” from 1951 to 1953 as a Demolition Specialist removing mines.
After he was discharged from the Army, he came to New York at the age of 28 and went on to become one of the most important Hispanics of New York City working tirelessly to promote the interests of poor minority communities since the 1960’s. The direct results of his leadership and vision are manifest throughout the South Bronx: the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; the implementation of bilingual education in the New York City School System, the registration of more than 500,000 Spanish-speaking voters following the abolition of discriminatory language requirements; Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College; more than twenty-five thousand new or renovated apartment units, including three senior citizens’ residences; and the Hunts Point Multi-Service Center, Inc. (a network of health clinics, mental health programs, drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services) and innovative Day Care and Head Start Centers. Together, annually provides services to more than twenty-five thousand minority residents of the poorest congressional district in the United States of America.
Mr. Velez served as a Member of the City Council of New York City and as an appointee to Presidential Task Forces. In 1995, Mr. Velez created the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., drawing upon forty years of success with the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. He is survived by his wife, Caroline Fitzpatrick; six children; six grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.
His remains are being transferred for viewing on Thursday, December 4th at Martell Funeral in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and he will be buried on Friday at the Hormigueros Cementery. Submitted by José Acevedo.