Ramón Alvarado, 41, died on July 20, 2020, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. After being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on his 40th birthday in 2019, Ramón achieved eight months in remission. In February 2020, with Ramón-like determination, he completed a half-marathon he adamantly trained for to help his body recover from five rounds of intensive chemotherapy. The day after the race, a routine bone marrow biopsy confirmed Ramón’s cancer had returned. He took great pleasure in reminding his friends that “a dude with cancer got a better time than them.”
Following Ramón’s cancer relapse, he underwent additional treatment in preparation for a stem cell transplant. Ramón’s sister, YuSun, lovingly and without hesitation, acted as his stem cell donor in hopes of curing his leukemia once and for all. On April 10, 2020, Ramón was gifted another chance at life through transfusion of YuSun’s stem cells. The transplant itself was successful in that Ramón was cancer-free at the time of his death. However, complications from the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation triggered a series of events that led to three medically challenging months. Ramón achieved the significant 100-day post-transplant milestone on Sunday, July 19, and died the following day.
Ramón grew up in a military family, living in many locations before settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Northview High School in 1997, and he earned an undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in 2002. Ramón went on to attend law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a proud badger who relocated to Georgia in 2005 to work in the Coweta County Public Defender’s Office.
Ramón was passionate about indigent defense, determined to provide equal justice for all people. He served as faculty at numerous trial skills training programs all over the nation, and he enjoyed inspiring rising public defenders. When he opened his own criminal defense practice in 2008, indigent clients made up more than half of his caseload. After more than ten years in private practice, Ramón achieved his long-term dream of becoming a Judge.
In January 2019, Ramón was sworn in as Gwinnett County’s first Hispanic judge; he was also the county’s first full-time judge of Korean descent. Though his time on the bench was much shorter than expected, he loved the opportunity to interact with the county’s constituents, making sure every voice was heard. Ramón also coordinated with the county animal shelter and prepared a weekly slideshow of adoptable pets to feature in his courtroom.
Ramón enjoyed spending time with his wife, Drew, and their three dogs, whether relaxing on the couch watching Atlanta sports or sitting outside in the beautiful mountains of Blue Ridge. Ramón’s hobbies included making ridiculous bets, obsessively Swiffering floors, and planning his next meal while in the throes of his current meal. He never met a dessert he didn’t like.
Ramón is survived by his wife, Drew Dotson, his parents, Alberto and YuSun Alvarado, his sister YuSun (Steve) Morren and nieces Avery and Amaya. His extended family includes Steve and Carol Dotson, Kevin Dotson, Claire (William) Timmins and nephews, John and Thomas. Ramón also leaves behind three dogs, Noodle, Benny, and Magpie, whom he treated like royalty. We imagine he’s happily reunited with his two departed dogs, Alfie and Phoenix.
Ramón was a perpetual giver, especially for people and animals in need. In lieu of flowers, Ramón would want his legacy to live on through donations to further his many passions. Ideas include non-profit organizations focused on civil rights, equality, equal justice, and animal rights. He also passionately supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in honor of his wife’s diagnosis, as well as Share Love, That’s All, an organization that helped him tremendously following his leukemia diagnosis.
Though no service is planned at this time, Ramón’s hope was to celebrate his life through an event that left everyone in awe of the food selection. When it’s safe to do so, we’ll have a feast in his honor. In the meantime, know that Ramón lived a happy life. During his initial cancer treatment, sitting in his favorite chair at home, Ramón told his wife with confidence, “If for any reason I die, I want you to know that I was happy. I accomplished everything I could have dreamt of and more.” So, despite inevitable moments of sadness, rest assured Ramón’s heart and soul were just as full as his stomach.