S. James Ramos Jr.

September 11, 1973May 25, 2016
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Early Life and Education: Samuel James Ramos, Jr. was born on September 11, 1973 at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, California to his parents Samuel and Elizabeth Daluyen Ramos. He spent most of his early years in Anaheim, California until the family moved to Redlands in 1979, where James attended Redlands Junior Academy for school grades 1 through 8. Around age 8-9, James started private piano lessons with Mr. Ben Liem. James next continued his piano studies under Dr. Lily Diehl, during which time he started winning awards and gaining public attention. A lifelong love of music and traveling was also sparked by his membership in A Joyful Noise, a children’s singing group led by Hellen Diaz Juman and Dominador Tamares.

For high school, James transferred to Loma Linda Academy, where he joined the Loma Linda Symphonic Band and participated in their touring performances (including Australia and New Zealand). After his junior year, James applied for early admission to the University of Redlands. At only 16 years of age, he was accepted to the U of R where he studied under Professor Louanne Long. In 1994, he completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance with a minor in Psychology. Following graduation, he continued his collegiate studies at the University of Arizona with Dr. Paula Fan and completed a Master of Music degree with advanced doctoral work in Piano Performance.

A winner and recipient of numerous performance awards and prizes, James had the honor of being named University of Redlands Performer of the Year. He was also an Instructor of Piano, as well as Musical Director/Vocal Coach of the Opera Scenes Program at the University of Arizona, where he was nominated for teacher/mentor of the year.

Work and Marriage: Following his time in Arizona, James joined the faculty of CSU Bakersfield, where he also served as Coordinator of Piano Accompanying. After a few years, he left the Bakersfield area to move back to Redlands, where he married his longtime college sweetheart and fellow piano music major, Erika Scheidel on October 8, 2000. They maintained a joint piano studio that taught hundreds of students over their 15 ½ years together and often partnered together as a performing piano duo.

In addition to his music degrees, James Ramos received an MPA (Master of Public Administration) with Distinction in Non-Profit Sector Management from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 2013. By this time, James had extensive experience in designing/redesigning and implementing new programs and systems in local to statewide organizations and small business. Focused on change management and organizational analysis, he was known for exploring, developing, and playing with ideas and concepts. As a part of his pursuit of combining music and his growing interest in business and management skills, he partnered with Deborah How and Fresas Balistreri to found BRAVURA innovations, a company focused on offering “virtuoso solutions for the performing arts through inspired ideas and technology integration.” In addition to his work as Chief Operating Officer at BRAVURA innovations and managing partner of Ramos Piano Studios, James served as the first Executive Director for the University of Redlands Piano Camp (which he was instrumental in founding) and Regional Associate for The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement program (TAP). James was very active in professional organizations like CAPMT (California Association of Professional Music Teachers) and MTAC (Music Teachers’ Association of California), serving at both the local and state levels. In addition, he was also the Vice President of the Elvin Samuel McGaughey Music Foundation and an Honorary member of Sigma Alpha Iota. As a musician and music educator, James’ focus and passion included Classical Piano, Jazz/Contemporary Piano Styles, Collaborative Piano, Improvisation, and Composition. His presentations included hands-on workshops with music students, seminars with music instructors, and lectures at state music conferences with topics including technology integration, new music, and music improvisation. In one of his last public performances, Mr. Ramos received a standing ovation for his spectacular performance of the 1st movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra in a fundraising concert held in April 2014 to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Other Interests: In addition to music, James’ many interests included travel, nature, photography, strategy games, birding, fine dining, history, politics, reading, psychology, sports and trivia. His high school friends may remember the Delta Force games he hosted, while his professional colleagues will remember his sense of humor and the many interesting factoids he could call to mind, sometimes seemingly arbitrarily. His wife will fondly remember the growing collection of cat pictures that James took (their household pets included at least three cats for most of their marriage.) And he thought he wasn’t a cat person at first!

Health and the End: James had a good sense of humor when it came to his health troubles. Several years into his marriage, he discovered that he had some food allergies that were causing problems. He was allergic to beef and basically any food product that came from a cow, especially whey protein. James liked to joke that he was allergic to ‘anything from a cow, including the leather.’

James’ battle with cancer began in late April of 2015, when his increasing headaches and confusion brought him to the emergency room. On May 1, 2015 at Redlands Community Hospital, he underwent his first brain surgery, which removed a grade IV gliosarcoma mass from his left frontal brain. After chemo and radiation, he returned to limited work as a piano teacher from September 2015 to March 2016. Though he was still symptom-free, his January 2016 MRI showed signs of metastases in multiple locations. By March, his cancer once again became immediately life-threatening, and he underwent more brain surgery at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica to remove two tumors. Unfortunately, complications from the cancer and the treatments that followed allowed James only two extra months of time. James passed away at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, CA at 12:10 pm on May 25, 2016.

Knowing the grim prognosis of his cancer (15 months median survival after diagnosis), James faced death with an overall sense of peace and acceptance. His abiding faith in Jesus Christ, fostered by a Christian education, Christian family life, and a personal relationship with Jesus, sustained him and gave him hope beyond this earthly life. For a long while on Facebook, James would post quotes of famous or important people whose philosophies resonated with him. The second to last quote posted was: “The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it. - Chris Pine.” James chose to view his cancer diagnosis not as something that should make him paralyzed and fearful, but as just another inevitable part of life, a way to grow and appreciate the blessings he had. His final wish was to continue to travel and enjoy his final days. He accomplished this by taking a trip to Washington state and Canada in November of 2015. Hawaii (a revisiting of his honeymoon location) was his next planned destination, but that was not to be…

Samuel James Ramos, Jr. is survived by his wife Erika, mother Elizabeth, father Samuel, and brother Jeremy.


  • Visitation

    Saturday, June 4, 2016

  • Service

    Sunday, June 5, 2016


S. James Ramos Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Irene Daluyen

February 19, 2017

I will always think of Kuya James as the brilliant cousin and talented pianist whom I was fortunate enough to have taken piano lessons from. Unfortunately for him, neither I nor my siblings were interested in learning how to play the piano and were probably his worst students. But he was such a patient and dedicated piano teacher who would drive all the way out to LA from Redlands just to teach three stubborn children how to play the piano. It was an uphill battle but he never got upset and would try different methods to get us through the lessons. It got to the point where he would give me a quarter every time I had a good piano lesson. And although I never even came close to becoming a talented pianist, he did instill in me an interest for sight reading which I still enjoy to this day. Because of our age differences, I didn't really get to know him outside of piano lessons and the occasional family get together. He was such a knowledgeable individual and had many accomplishments that to a young person could be intimidating but he was very down to earth, always sharing words of encouragement as well as jokes. He was also interested in different foods and desserts, and we had talked about having a pastry party. Sadly, we were never able to have our party, but I look forward to having an even greater party with all our loved ones in heaven.

Arlene Morada

October 31, 2016

Kuya James was the older cousin I knew I had, but didn't really get to know simply because of the age difference and physical distance. I always referenced him in my head as Kuya Jeremy's brother, someone who knows a lot about a lot of different stuff, and the piano prodigy. He was incredibly talented and smart that I always felt a little awed to be related to him. Though he always had something to say, his words were always thoughtful and often thought-provoking. It was always a warm feeling of happiness when we left family get-togethers, especially Thanksgiving at Uncle Sam and Auntie Betty's house, when the kids would sit together after enjoying the meal, mostly because we couldn't understand what the adults were saying in Ilocano. I remember always leaving with a sense of togetherness and feeling included.

When I first brought Oliver as my boyfriend to an official family function, it was to my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Although it was only in jest, Kuya James quietly offered to "interrogate" him if needed. He was quick to include Oliver in the conversation and to get to know him. When it was time to plan our wedding, Oliver and I immediately thought to ask Kuya James to be the pianist, especially since he was once my piano teacher, to which he graciously accepted and lent his expertise to help make our day so special.

I will always be thankful for the patience and dedication Kuya James showed as he taught my siblings and I how to play the piano and how to read music, even when he had to flip a coin to see who would go first. Though I wish I had been a better student, I'm thankful to have those and other memories of him to look back on with fondness.

Helen LaiPang, 2016 board member of MTAC Redlands Branch

September 22, 2016

My family and I, including my children still mourn for the loss of a great friend, as well as a very talented colleague, Dr. James Ramos. We will continue to miss him so much. He was one of the most hardworking & organized presidents of our Music Teachers' Association of California Redlands Branch, besides being a great teacher and music improviser.

Among the many precious memories we had of James with our children happened as if it was just like yesterday. I clearly remembered during their high school age, James(super talented on the piano) with my oldest son, Sherwin Thia, would sit at the piano and start improvising a piano duet so skillfully. Another 2 wonderful experiences with James was when, out of his good heart, he spent so much time rehearsing and coaching our youngest son, Miclen LaiPang, in preparation for his two prestigious concerts. James, our gratitude for your kind generosity was beyond words could express.

One of the reasons why our MTAC Redlands Branch was ranked to be one of the best branches was because of the capable leadership of late James Ramos and his very supportive and talented wife, Erika Ramos. We, piano teachers of the branch, always loved, adored and appreciated both of them very much from the bottom of our hearts. I would, personally, miss his cheerful smile and caring nature. He always had time to converse with intelligence of great ideas and concern.

When my husband Michael was suffering from his cancer, occasionally he would write short messages in my Facebook messenger to inquire how my husband was and always assured that we had his thoughts and prayers.

As my family continue to miss our dear friend, I have to turn for comfort from the promising text of the Bible that says:

"The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

I just cannot wait for that reunion in Heaven. For the meantime, rest in peace in Jesus my precious friend and colleague, James.

Mona Benight

September 8, 2016

I became aware of James and Erika Ramos around 2001 when, after retiring from the corporate world, I went back to my first love of teaching music and joined the Music Teacher's Association of California. Attending my first convention, it seemed I saw them everywhere. All the time!! I loved their energy, insight, foresight and open-to-new ideas attitude.
Several years later I found myself sitting next to James on the MTAC State Board of Directors where we soon discovered we had more in common than music: we were both raised in very similar religious surroundings which led to fascinating conversations about creative uses for TVP, sunset times charts, Postum, and how to build a perfectly balanced, symmetrical haystack.
We also shared almost an obsessive compulsion to understand, as thoroughly as possible, multiple perspectives of any given scenario. This led to many animated discussions on all kinds of abstract topics each of us waiting for our turn to play devil's advocate with the other's ideas.
The real fun happened when we double dated as couples my husband is a philosopher with a mathematics background and we all know Erica may be quiet, but she is also scary brilliant our life perspective discussions' were off the charts awesome. James' ready laugh and the unique timbre of his voice would ring out above whatever din surrounded us.
So, when James announced he would be flying under the radar for a couple of years to pursue his MPA, I was delighted for him, but understood completely figuring we'd pick up where we left off when all was said and done.
It never, ever occurred to me that we would run out of time.
In the last little while as Erika's reports were more and more resigned to the inevitability for which we are gathered here today, I found myself doing some serious, soul-ripping pondering. The result was a re-working of my perspective on how to best honor those who have gone on before. The conclusion is this: I am choosing to take what James taught me, the things that make me a better person for having known him and consciously, purposefully planting them throughout my sphere of influence. His legacy will live on in my life. I would like to invite each of you to consider doing the same.
To Erika: I give to you the gift of my time and attention whenever and however you feel you are ready to have it.
Finally, to James: Thank you for the gift of who you were and will continue to be for us. Thank you for your wit and wisdom, your humor and your brilliance. Most of all, thank you for being my friend. Sleep well. We'll touch base when the trumpet blows. Bye for now.

Sharon Townsend

August 20, 2016

I have had the honor of knowing James and his wife for many years through the Music Teachers Association of California. Additionally, James has served on the Elvin S. McGaughey Music Foundation board with me for many years. James and I quickly bonded when we served on the State Board for MTAC. During our monthly meetings in San Francisco, we would, with Mona, explore new restaurants (not attending the sort of mandatory board dinner with the other board members) and talk for hours on end about anything and everything. James was a deep thinker, passionate about doing the right thing and hungry for anything to do with ethical leadership. When I went back to school for a second master's degree (MPA), he was thirsty for the knowledge I was learning about administration and the leadership sector. We would meet on a regular basis to discuss what I was learning. When I graduated, both of them traveled from Redlands to Glendale to attend a graduation party for me.
I knew James wanted more in life, beyond his teaching and beyond his earning potential, therefore, he too returned to school for a Masters in Public Administration. During those two years of driving into Los Angeles for classes, James and I would meet on a regular basis to review his classes, discuss his finals, and share what made him tick.

I enjoyed the stories he would tell me about how he and Erika met. How much they loved to "game" and yes, they would be playing the same games my son was.

I had the honor of judging his students almost on a yearly basis and one thing always stood out, they loved to play the piano, they loved music, and there was joy in their sound, touch, and personas.

I can't imagine my life without James and I miss all of our long conversations about life, music, leadership, food, and yes, how we could make a difference in the world of music leadership.

I think of him everyday- I miss him. Our friendship was special, instant, and with great admiration and respect for each other. I can't imagine how Erica must be feeling and we must all continue to hold her up and bless her with our friendships.

James and I used to pass quotes back and forth and I think this fits in my tribute to James.

"Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life." Eleanor Roosevelt

Bless you for giving me the gift of friendship. And Erika, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."

Wilan Wong

August 19, 2016

When I think of James Ramos, my first memories are of Delta Force gatherings, and band, and band tours. Thinking creatively and music seemed to go so well together. I was so proud of James winning the school's talent show, especially since the piece was his own composition. Then I remember the rare free moments scattered through college. I was fortunate enough to accompany him on a drive to Glendale and back. We talked relationships, and he asked my thoughts on dating someone Christian, not necessarily Adventist. I have always struggled with this balance. Somehow I knew if anyone could find balance, it was James. Sure enough, my memories were then inclusive of Erika and James. Again, I was pleased and proud to see my friends find in each other the good match that is so rare these days. From the lovely wedding, time flew by with memories of celebrations of birthdays, and dining out just because. They also introduced me to Old Town Music in Pasadena.
It was good to see the two of them in 2014, at the Los Angeles Doctor Symphony Orchestra. It seems like yesterday. The evening was a fund raiser, showcasing young talented students, and the collective music of the ensemble. I never would have guessed that would be one of the most recent and dear memories of James and Erika, in their element. Although sad and grieving, I have one more happy and proud moment of James. From the shared memories of friends and family, he lived and loved well, full, and deeply. He will be missed.

Linda Carrier

August 17, 2016

I only knew James professionally, but our association in the Music Teachers Association of California Redlands Branch, lasted about 16 years.

The memories about James I have are his dedication to leadership in teaching music. He was not a back-seat kind of man; rather always pushing forward. He was an innovator: from work at the state board, leading the Improvising/Composing Program statewide. He served our Branch as President for several years, and graciously took over my newly elected job as President 5-1/2 years ago when my husband had brain surgery. Last year I was glad to return the favor when he became too ill to continue his term as President.

I will always remember James as an enthusiastic, bubbly personality with a smile a mile wide. Rae Kate Shen, another teacher, remembers him as a half full rather than a half empty type of person, so encouraging, positive and optimistic with students and adults alike.

When he was serious, I don't recall him ever being stern. His smile with a chuckle was never far away.

I, too, remember his robust, all-in personality. Sometimes his enthusiasm in getting his point across caused him to stutter, but he never apologized or held back. To me it was an endearing part of his personality.

Each teacher in our Redlands Branch has personally benefitted from his leadership. How I wish we had expressed these sentiments to James when he was alive.

But James did not work alone. Erika was by his side, participating and leading with James throughout their marriage. They have been a dynamic couple in our professional circle.

So Erika, I would like to tell you how much I appreciate all you have done with James professionally. The world of music in Redlands has benefitted from your faithful and generous work individually and as a couple.

Linda Carrier
President, Redlands Branch of MTAC
June 4, 2016

Lydia Ramos Monteloyola

July 28, 2016

James is my nephew, his dad is my older brother. His parents took me in their home when I moved to CA in 1976. On my days off I baby sat James especially on weekends. Sis Betty always reminded me not to forget to turn on the TV and watch " Lawrence Welk Show " his favorite show which became my favorite show too. When I found out his diagnosis last Dec. 5, 2015, I felt so sad and somehow I knew what he's going through, being a cancer patient myself that had chemo and radiation. I felt closer to him being my favorite nephew, no offense to my other nephews. Rey ,Ren ( my children) & I visited James last January. 2016. I was glad to see him laughing and joking while we were eating dinner at " MU's Restaurant " the restaurant he chose. I was thankful of the chance to tell him again that he was favorite nephew and I love him. I will miss you James. Rest in peace. I will see you in the morning.

Jarl Hulbert

July 11, 2016

James and I met at the University of Redlands, where we both studied as piano majors under Prof. Louanne Long. I still remember that day in the 1990's when, not knowing him very well yet, he told me that he wanted me to come with him on an errand. "Where to?" I asked. He told me that he'd let me know once we started driving. Well, we drove and talked, but he never told me where we were going. His plan the entire time was to just drive and talk . . . no destination after all!

Later, I visited him in Arizona and in Bakersfield, and I invited him to Baltimore to play a concert. I always admired his abilities and was thankful for his friendship. He is sorely missed!

Megan Li

June 5, 2016

Mr. Ramos was always so caring and positive when he taught me. He was so patient whenever I did anything wrong or forgot to do something. Every time I went into a lesson, I would come out knowing more about piano and some things other than piano. I will miss Mr. Ramos and I know others will too.


James was born on September 11, 1973 at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, CA.


James at 2 months.


James with relatives.


James at 2 and a half months.


James at Christmas.


James’ 1st Christmas.


1st Christmas for James.


James at 1 year.


James at 2 years.


Celebrating James’ 3rd birthday.