The sun came out from the clouds at noon, Feb. 8, for the Robert Ramage memorial, a pre-vet student at Pierce College, at the Disabled American Veterans Hall, in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Ramage’s passing was sudden, after being killed in a hit and run car accident, Jan. 15.
Vehicles filled the parking lot as over 200 friends, family and coworkers arrived to pay their respects to share in a day of remembrance.
“There has been a real out-pouring,” said Cathy Adam, Ramage’s mother. “This is his day.”
As a Los Angeles Pierce Community College student,Ramage had hopes of becoming a veterinarian and one day studying under Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Director and Professor of Animal Sciences, in the Pre-Veterinary Science Program.
“The animals loved him, the students loved him and I can speak for the fact that we loved him,” said Dr. Shapiro. “What is not to love? He was a good man. That’s why I stay because of people like Robert. He makes it fun.”
Dr Shapiro pointed to a table at the entrance of the hall displaying a special certificate for “Outstanding Performance in Veterinary Sciences”, signed by himself and Dr. Donna Mae Villanueva, Dean of Academic Affairs, Pierce College.
The crowd moved from outside to inside the hall where people would get up and speak into a microphone and share their stories of Ramage.
Tess Schexnayder, past president of the Pierce Vet-Club, stepped to the microphone and shared how Ramage had waited 2 1/2 hours for her to complete a ballet class, so he could help her with another class she was taking. Schexnayder then presented the family with a certificate from the Vet-Club, which Steven Ramage; Robert’s brother, stepped up to receive the plaque and hugged her. Both were teary eyed.
A tall man in a suit, Phillip Lewis, took the stage and spoke about the night of the accident.
“I really don’t know anybody here, until the day after Robert passed away and I have memories that no one in this room wants. This young lady (Chenanah Bowen) was on 911,” Lewis said. “I think it is very important that everybody needs to know, Robert did not die alone. He didn’t die with no one caring. A whole group of people were around caring for him. They did the best they could within the circumstances. I never did get to meet him. I asked the young lady next to me what his name was. She called him, Sweetheart. She did not know him. She held his right hand. I held his left elbow to his chest. The young lady’s boyfriend held his head. The one thing that I am absolutely sure of and everyone needs to take comfort in, Rob has no idea what happened. From the moment that truck hit his car he was Rob no longer. The last two thoughts and I am certain of this, when he started to drive away from the red light that had turned green, he thought, I’m almost home and damn this In N Out smells good.”
The audience went from tears to smiles. While Lewis spoke, Cathy Adam could be heard throughout the room giving agreement to all he shared.
Larry Russell a close family friend, represented a father and big brother image to Ramage. When Ramage was 14-years-old, Russell would take him skimboarding.
“Skimboarding, is like surfing, but closer to shore so we didn’t have to worry about big sharks. We used to go every weekend,” said Russell. “I’d get him up at about six in the morning and get him ready to go. We’d go skimboarding first and me and a few of his friends would go to Venice long boarding, and skate around. He loved it. His friends loved it.”
Ramage’s love for animals goes back as far as any of his friends and family can remember.
Larry Russell said, “His sister (Ramage’s), Dee (Reynolds), had that non-profit organization so she always had random animals coming in and out of the house.”
“He was deathly allergic to cats,” Russell said. “He would wake up every morning. His eyes would be swelled up because Lucy was his girl, a little red cat. It passed away years ago, but it would pretty much, sleep on top of his head. He’d wake up. His eyes were swollen shut. He’d pet it. He’d just swell right up, but he didn’t care, because he just loved the animals.”
Reynolds could have been a defining factor in her brother’s life. She currently has her own rescue, for Bengal cats and volunteers for the Stray Cat Alliance and the Southern California Abyssinian Rescue. Reynolds had taken over the family ‘infamous’ garage. It was filled with cages that were filled with cats.
“He was amazing. From a very young age we all were involved with the animals,” Reynolds said. “He started helping the rescue and he actually was the only person I ever had in to help that received any pay. He learned how to do shots. He did micro chipping. He learned to do just basic grooming (for animals) from the shelter. We got a lot of animals that were matted. So he learned it from a very young age and his chosen career was going to be with the animals.”
Ramage transferred from Valley College to Pierce for the pre-veterinarian program. While at Valley he met Kim Pardon, who moved here in 2009 from Ohio and became a close friend of Robert’s. They were taking the same prerequisite courses, the anatomies, the physios, the micros and other subjects of that nature.
“He was my first friend, my first classmate, my first study-mate. He walked that journey with me from start to finish,” Pardon said. “He helped me with my science courses. I would not have graduated without him. He is like my little brother.”
One of Ramage’s good friends, Joshua Mosely, said he hung out every single day for many years with Ramage. He said they would just be kicking it, hanging out.
“Rob was kind, caring and genuine. Rob was the man,” Mosely said. “I work and I’m going back to school to Pierce. It’s time to get my stuff going. Rob was such a big inspiration and I know that’s what he would have wanted.”
The celebration of Ramage’s life was in full swing with laughter, hugging, a few tears and a strong synergy. Many were sharing their memories and thoughts of Ramage.
“Robert was a good friend,” Gautam Saini said. “We’ve been friends since elementary school. He was smart. He was going to be great.”
Matthew Teal was Ramage’s lab partner, in a Physics class at Pierce.
“He was kind enough to introduce himself to me. He was great that way.” Teal said. “Fo Sho was what we always said.” Teal was shocked to have heard about Ramage’s death on a local news station.
Other friends and family took turns sharing their stories. Some choked back tears, others had the audience smiling and laughing. One thing was clear, Ramage was loved and respected by many.