Former Commissioner Dan Ramirez, first Latino elected in Charlot - | WBTV Charlotte

Former Commissioner Dan Ramirez, first Latino elected in Charlotte, dies

Dan Ramirez was known for quiet leadership in business circles and in Charlotte politics. He died Sunday afternoon after a two-year battle with ALS, or what's commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

His family was by his side. Ramirez was 66 years old.

When Ramirez was elected to the Mecklenburg County Commission in 2002, he told WBTV he didn't realize he made history until someone else told him. He was the first Latino elected to the board. He was re-elected in 2006.

The Republican was known for his support of bringing the Knights baseball team back to Charlotte. Opening day takes place next month in uptown.

Ramirez was a private person, but opened up to WBTV's Jamie Boll about his diagnosis in 2012. Ramirez said he hoped it would help other people.

He was used to raising money for political campaigns, but decided to give up politics and use his talents to raise money and awareness for ALS.

"We are saddened to learn of the death of former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dan Ramirez, a true pioneer in our community. Dan was a successful businessman who fought with courage for what he believed was right," said Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Trevor M. Fuller.

"As an at-large county commissioner, his was an important voice for many. Although he fought illness in the last two years, he was still an inspiration to all. Dan's life was a true testament to the American dream."

Last year, Ramirez was presented the Longleaf Pine award from Governor Pat McCrory. It is the State's highest honor.

Sunday, WBTV learned the Governor called Cecy Ramirez, Dan's wife of 46 years, to offer his condolences.

"North Carolina has lost a historic figure and I have lost a cherished friend," said Governor McCrory in a public statement on Sunday. "Dan's numerous contributions to the community were more than a civic duty, they were expressions of his gratitude to the country, state and people he loved. Ann and I have his family in our prayers."

Dan and Cecy raised three daughters. His family shared this statement with WBTV about his passing:

"With great sorrow but with the pride of having had him as our father and husband for so long, we inform you that Dan Ramirez passed away peacefully at 5:35pm on March 16th surrounded by his wife of 46 years Cecy and his 3 daughters Christina, Marce, and Claudia."

"He fought ALS bravely for the past 2+ years and demonstrated a courage that has been the hallmark of his life since his earliest days," the statement continued. "Dan came to the US in 1970 with Cecy and a newborn, and $79 in his pocket. From there he rose to become a successful businessman and government leader, in addition to a loving father, grandfather, father-in-law, husband and friend."

"His time with us was all too brief, but it was full of life, love, and happiness and we are grateful God blessed us all with the life of this wonderful man," his family said.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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