Ramirez Was 'Positive, Humble' At NAHJ Convention

By: Mark Fitzgerald Reports that something at last week's National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) convention upset Rich Ramirez of San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News only lends more mystery to his apparent suicide, the group's president said Friday.

"I don't have a clue what that could be," Rafael Olmeda, assistant city editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, said. "I was informed of that yesterday and I've been trying to find out what possibly could have happened -- because if anything it was 180 degrees the opposite of that."

Ramirez had taken on the arduous task of hosting the group's 25th anniversary convention in San Jose, but was "very positive, and very humble," about the way it turned out, Olmeda said.

At a board meeting on June 17 to review the convention, Ramirez began by thanking directors for giving him the opportunity to organize the gathering.

"We were dumfounded," Olmeda said. "Nobody ever thanks someone for letting them volunteer. I mean, thank YOU. This guy really worked his heart out, and to thank us just showed what kind of a guy he was."

Olmeda said he saw no sign during the convention that anything had upset him.

"But having lived through the loss of a friend from suicide, and talking to others who have gone through the same thing, I think people need to distinguish between a catalyst and a cause," Olmeda added. "Something may have set him off, but the cause could be far different. And I only pray that his family reaches a understanding of what he did."

The most tragic part of Ramirez's apparent despair "is that for Richard, there was hope, there was opportunity," Olmeda said. "I wish I could have gotten into his head and screamed at him, 'Why?'"


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