S. James Ramos Jr.

September 11, 1973May 25, 2016
Obituary of S. James Ramos Jr.
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.

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