By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
It was nearly one year ago when 14,275 votes were cast in favor of Ramiro Sauceda being named the San Benito News Hooked on ’Hounds fan contest winner – a bid that earned him second place in a hotly-contested online poll at Sbnewspaper.com.
After expressing appreciation for the overwhelming support shown to the Sauceda family in light of Ramiro’s death at the age of 72 this past Thursday, family and friends feel that perhaps it was the community that was, instead, hooked on Ramiro.
“So many people came by today, and just to know that he had made such an impact makes this a little easier,” Ramiro’s grandson, B.J. Saldivar, said on Thursday. “My grandfather was our leader, our mentor, our motivator and the glue that holds our family as one.”
B.J. moved his family from San Antonio back to San Benito to help his grandmother, Rosa Sauceda, care for Ramiro, who had long-suffered from diabetes and required hospice care.
“We moved down so I could help him, because grandma didn’t have anybody to pick him up when he fell,” B.J. said. “We stayed here in the house and lived here with him. I also wanted my daughter, Kaydence, to know him.
“We were here at home when he (Ramiro) passed away,” B.J. added Thursday afternoon. “He woke up this morning, had his breakfast, fell back to sleep and stayed asleep.”
The grieving grandson said it was especially difficult having to witness Ramiro’s struggle with the disease, not to mention explaining to Kaydence, who recently turned a year old, that her great-grandfather had died.
“The hard part is that, in the last couple days, he had gotten really weak and had been falling a lot… He was so important to me, and I wanted him to be a part of my daughter’s life,” B.J. said. “But he knew her and she knew him. She even called out, ‘Oh no, grandpa!’ and reached out her hand and held his hand. That’s was so hard.”
The family has since taken solace in an outpouring of prayers and condolences from individuals who said Ramiro touched their lives. The News was also inundated with emails, text and Facebook messages from many in the community who expressed grief regarding Ramiro’s death.
“Someone just said it on Facebook right now that this man (Ramiro) was a very funny and kind man, and I thought of all the words that could be used to describe him, that describes him,” B.J. said. “He was kind, and he loved to joke. I also got my love for music from him. I used to sit on the porch as a kid and loved hearing him play the accordion. He loved people, he loved life, and he loved everyone he knew.”
Ramiro and Rosa were married for 49 years. Although they were both from San Benito, B.J. said his grandparents met while in Michigan, where Ramiro was a migrant worker. The Saucedas had three children together – Patsy Garcia, Joseph Sauceda and Veronica Gonzalez – 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Joseph described his father as a mentor full of love and jokes, who was actively involved in his community and church.
Rosa also reminded that it was Ramiro – a longtime Greyhound and Lady ’Hounds fan; a season ticket holder for 30 years and member of the Quarterback Club in the mid-1990s – who called the football players the night before a game to make sure they were home resting.
“He would also set up the smoke machine on the field before every game so the team could make their entrance onto the field with impact,” B.J. continued. “He took it really hard when the doctor told him he couldn’t go to the games anymore because being out was too dangerous for his health.”
Those who attended church with Ramiro at Primera Iglesia Bautista in San Benito – where he once served as a deacon – also shared their impressions. Leroy Gomez of Primera Iglesia Bautista said, “He (Ramiro) is incredibly loved in our church and city.”
Visitation will be held at San Benito Funeral Home from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with a service at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday at Primera Iglesia Bautista; interment will follow at Mont Meta Memorial Park in San Benito.