WESLACO, RGV – Former Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council executive director Ken Jones has paid his tribute to one of the longest serving members of the group.

Grassroots activist Arturo V. Ramirez died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 70 years of age.

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Arturo Ramirez. I had the honor of knowing Arturo since I returned to the Rio Grande Valley in 1977. At that time, he was manager at the Military Highway Water Supply Corporation, and little did I know we would develop a long-standing friendship of over forty (40) years,” Jones told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Ken Jones

“I had the opportunity to know Arturo best during his many years as a Board member of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC) representing Grassroots Organizations throughout the three-county region of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties.

“From the get go, Arturo exhibited heart felt compassion, integrity, and dedication for improving the quality of life for all within the region focusing on those most in need. His dedication and actions earned him region-wide respect and was unanimously supported by the LRGVDC membership to serve in several officer positions and ultimately serving as the organizations president.

“His declining health in the last few years did not deter his efforts to stay active, attending meetings and continuing to have positive impact to the betterment of the Rio Grande Valley.

“His presence will be missed and I know I am a better person for being a recipient of his friendship, and I offer my sincere condolences to his family.”

Ramirez died of at Edinburg Regional Medical Center. A funeral service was held Thursday at Resurrection Catholic Church in Alamo. Interment followed at San Juan Cemetery.

His obituary read:

Mr. Ramirez was born in San Juan, and lived in Alamo since 1976. He dedicated his life as a Director at The Center for Economic Opportunities among other non-profit organizations.

He is preceded in death by two brothers, Efren Ramirez, Richard Ramirez; and a sister, Hortencia Ramirez. 

Mr. Ramirez is survived by his wife, Irma G. Ramirez of Alamo; two sons, Gerardo X. (Ashley) Ramirez of Donna, Luis A. Ramirez of Alamo; three brothers, Porfirio (Feliza) Ramirez of Pharr, Miguel (Anita) Ramirez of Colorado, Henry (San Juanita) Ramirez of Irving; a sister, Gloriana Ramirez of Irving; and a sister-in-law, Martha Ramirez of Tyler. 

Visitation will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with a 7 p.m. rosary today, May 30, 2018, at Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan. Funeral service will take place at 2 p.m., Thursday, May 31, 2018, at Resurrection Catholic Church in Alamo. Interment will follow at San Juan Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Resurrection Catholic Church.

Funeral services are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan.

LRGVDC is the official council of government for Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties. Ramirez served on the group’s board of directors from 1991 right up until his death. He was president of the council in 2008-2009. He said at the time:

“I am extremely honored to have been elected as the new LRGVDC president. I look forward to continuing the positive momentum and progress created by past presidents of this organization. The regional approach is an effective way to address the comprehensive needs of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the LRGVDC will continue to be a leader in this regard.”

The LRGVDC board met in Weslaco on Wednesday, the day after Ramirez’s death. Incoming president of the LRGVDC, Norma Garcia said: “He served on this board for many, many years. May he rest in peace.”

Current LRGVDC Executive Director Ron Garza said Ramirez’s position as the “grassroots” representative on the group’s board of directors was not an elected position. His alternate, Gilbert Ortiz, was asked if he would take Ramirez’s position on the LRGVDC board. Ortiz said “yes.” An image on the large wall-mounted monitors said the position belonged to the “Representative of the Poor and Underprivileged.”

In the coming days, the Rio Grande Guardian will have a fuller tribute to Ramirez, focusing on his days as a young community leader and founder of the Center for Economic Opportunities non-profit.