Charlotte says farewell to Latino leader, pioneer - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte says farewell to Latino leader, pioneer

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Charlotte said goodbye to Dan Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon.

He was first and foremost a husband and a father. Ramirez moved his young family from Colombia to the United States with a just a few dollars in his pocket.

He would settle in Charlotte, create a business, and make political history by becoming the first Latino to win countywide office by winning a seat on the Mecklenburg County Commission.

He would be the first to tell you he lived the American Dream.

Claudia Tate offered a memorable blue print that described her father's remarkable life.

"To daddy everything in life opened doors to infinite possibilities and he lived daily with an attitude of gratitude," she said. "He was grateful for family, for love, for work for the freedom our country gave him to live his dreams."

The ice storm of 2002 put Ramirez and wife on the community's front lines, as they distributed carbon monoxide detectors to Latino families.

He also went on the air in his native language and instructed them to refrain from burning charcoal in their homes.

Governor Pat McCrory recalled the moment.

"We may never know how many people Dan Ramirez may have saved during that storm, but we do know that numbers and praise never interested Dan Ramirez."

His political accomplishments became a symbol of pride for local Latin Americans, William DePaulo brought an old campaign sign to the farewell service.

DePaulo said, "He made the American Dream reality with hard work, because what made the USA a strong nation was hard work."

In era of strong partisan politics, Ramirez had the reputation for finding common ground and keeping a calm voice.

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner served with him.

"He was a bridge builder and he brought us all together, and even when we would caucus as republicans, he was a great stabilizer."

Being the only man in the house meant that stability at home was an important factor, and that was demonstrated by his widow Cece who said goodbye with a kiss of the coffin.

"He certainly had a way with words and he was able to call us together with his most famous and often repeated line, 'Girls we can go to heaven together or we can go to hell together. The choice is yours'."

Ramirez died over the weekend after a battle with A-L-S.

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