May 3, 1915 – May 14, 2020
Alejo Ramos died peacefully in his home at the age of 105 on May 14, 2020. Born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on May 3, 1915, he was the son of Alejo and María (Escobar) Ramos and one of the oldest of ten children. He was brought up on a farm and was used to hard work; he would often speak of getting up at three o’clock in the morning to milk cows and to take the farm produce into town where he would sell it before going to school. There was little opportunity then to go beyond an eighth grade education, although he always thought that the education he had received was the equivalent of at least a high school diploma. He was a bright young man and knew that he didn’t want to spend his life working on a farm; he took different jobs as a store or grocery clerk in his hometown and elsewhere until he decided to leave Puerto Rico for New York in 1938. Life was not easy when he arrived in New York but he was determined to stay and do well, and well he did. He started to work in restaurants in different capacities, but his work was interrupted by the war and he served in the Army for more than three and a half years from 1942 to 1945, going only as far as the Panama Canal. After the war, he returned to work in restaurants and learned the trade of a cook at which he excelled. In 1947 he married Dominga Méndez, also from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and shortly after their marriage they moved to Yorkville, in the east 80s, being the first and only Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood. They had their first and only daughter Alice and he made sure to provide well for both his wife and daughter, wanting for his daughter a good education which he thought so important. For more than thirty years he worked in two restaurants where he learned and mastered the art of French and Italian cuisine. After his retirement, he enjoyed working as a cook for a few years at a private school where he was told that teachers and students had never eaten so well. His work at the school came to an end when his wife was diagnosed with ALS; he cared for her at home and in the hospital toward the end of her life and had the good fortune of having their only daughter with them supporting them every step of the way. After his wife’s death he brought his love for good food to the home where he enjoyed preparing meals especially for his only daughter and friends. An avid reader of history and politics, a baseball fan, an excellent conversationalist, with a great memory he spent much time socializing with people in the neighborhood; he was sometimes referred to as the mayor of Yorkville, as he knew so many people and so many knew him. Even into his late nineties he would be walking many blocks a day, food shopping, greeting all those he knew along the way, and cooking. When he was 95 he traveled to Spain with his daughter for the first time, and he loved the country and his daughter’s friends so much that he returned three more times until the age of 98. He had such a youthful and engaging spirit. He is survived by his daughter Alice Ramos of New York City, by his sister Teresa Ramos Normandía, currently of New Jersey, and by many nieces and nephews in different states and in Puerto Rico. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church or to Alderton House, Inc.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
May 21, 2020
Alice I wanted to let you know that I will be praying for your father and you at this sad time. Terry Panzera
May 20, 2020
We will miss the lovely afternoons with Alex and Alice having a cup of Bustelo and pastries....we enjoyed discussing the New York Yankees and restaurants..John&Beth Siefring
May 19, 2020
Rest in peace, dear Alex. We will miss your energy, enthusiasm and yes, that unbeatable chicken cacciatore.