Raul Ramirez, executive director of news and public affairs at San Francisco’s KQED, died Nov. 15 in Berkeley. He was 67 and had been fighting esophageal cancer since his July diagnosis.
Born in Cuba, Ramirez began his career in the 1960s as a print journalist, working at major dailies such as the Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Examiner. He joined KQED in 1991, signing on as news director.
During 22 years at the station, Ramirez oversaw its news programming and executive-produced Pacific Time, a radio series exploring cultural links between Asia and North America. He also served as president of the board of directors of the Center for Investigative Reporting in the 1990s, a turbulent period in the nonprofit newsroom’s history, as it lost organization staff and funding.
“Raul’s commitment to journalism ethics was a major influence on all of the work we’ve done at KQED,” said Jo Anne Wallace, v.p. and g.m. of KQED Radio, in a news release announcing Ramirez’s death. “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.”
Ramirez received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2013 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Before his death, he established the Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund at San Francisco State University, where he taught journalism for 30 years. He requested that when he died, mourners donate to the fund.
“Raul had more integrity, humanity, decency, strength of character and goodness in him than nearly anyone I have ever known,” Michael Krasny, host of KQED’s Forum, said KQED's announcement. “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.”
One month before he died, Ramirez married his husband, Tony Wu, in San Francisco.
Read the rest of Ramirez’s obituary, and further remembrances of him, at KQED’s website.