March 7, 2012

07CN: First Hispanic to Lead a GC Department Dies

Louis Ramirez, First Hispanic to Lead
a GC Department, Passes to His Rest

Converted to Adventism, he was a lifelong literature evangelist. (Posted Mar. 8, 2012)

BY ANSEL OLIVER, Adventist News Network

Louis A. Ramirez was such a bold and effective salesman that he could sell religious literature to other Christian ministers who had denounced Seventh-day Adventist literature from their own pulpits.

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 ALWAYS AN EVANGELIST: Ramirez in an undated photo at Montemorelos University in Mexico. He would often forgo special accommodations for church officers and stay in the dorm among the students he mentored. [PHOTO: Ramierz Family]

Ramirez, who died February 6, 2012, at age 93, grew the door-to-door literature sales ministry throughout Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s and went on to become the first Hispanic departmental director at the Adventist world church headquarters. He held the position from 1980 to 1985.

When visiting Adventist colleges with fellow division officers, Ramirez preferred to stay in the dorm with students and take a few out selling door to door. A persuasive seller, in the 1960s Ramirez had about half of the Costa Rican Adventist vocational school students working as literature evangelists, then known as colporteurs. He would often sell to busy shopkeepers whom students thought were sure to reject him.

He joined the Adventist Church in 1952 at age 34, having been exposed to the church by Adventist friends, missionaries, and, of course, its literature.

Ramirez was born into a Catholic family in 1918 in the northern California city of Richmond. He was the only child of a railway worker who had fled the Mexican revolution. He grew up speaking Spanish and became bilingual after entering school at age 6. He was an avid reader and took several night classes in foreign trade and banking from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a local celebrity in the Bay Area as a host of a bilingual show on KRE radio.

It was an Army buddy, Kenneth Holland—who would later become editor of the denomination’s Signs of the Times magazine—who first introduced Ramirez to the Adventist Church. Ramirez had him conduct chapel services on the radio at Buckley Field.

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 LEADERSHIP FIRST: Louis A. Ramirez was elected director of the Adventist Church’s Publishing Department in 1980 at the General Conference session in Dallas, Texas, making him the first Hispanic director at the world headquarters. At right, Bender L. Archbold, president of the IAD, congratulates Ramirez.

Ramirez worked for Jacuzzi Universal from 1940 to 1958, having helped establish factories in Mexico and Argentina, where he would occasionally meet Adventist missionaries, including David Baasch. Aboard a Pan American flight in 1948 he met an Adventist who gave him a subscription to Adventist magazines. Ramirez’s wife, Virginia, read Signs of the Times and joined the church in 1950. He followed two years later, baptized by Lawrence Maxwell, a longtime denominational editor.

Ramirez continued to work for Jacuzzi and did colporteuring work in northern California before being called in 1959 to serve as publishing director for the Central American Union, based in Costa Rica. He was ordained as a minister there in 1963.

He was appointed associate publishing director of the Inter-American Division in 1968 and director in 1972, a position he held until elected to serve at the world headquarters.

Virginia Ramirez preceded him in death in 2002, as well as his daughter Martina, in 2007. His son, Luis; daughter Loretta; and four grandchildren survive.