Memorial Service for Rodolfo S.A. Ramos
Philippine Center – Milwaukee, WI
9 October, 2016
Eulogy Delivered by Roger Austria
I am Roger Austria, good friend of Rudy. My friendship with Rudy has been a long one. It dates back to the late 1940’s when we attended the University of the Philippines H.S., graduating in 1950. It gives substance to the cliche, “I love him to death.” (Jingle, I don’t think you were even born yet, right?).
Rudy was one of the youngest in our class. I don’t know if he was actually the youngest member? But I do know that he was the last classmate to still wear short pants in class.
Rudy learned to love working at an early age. While we were occupied with basketball, he worked part-time at the library. This early passion for working not only paid dividends in his later life, but also turned him into a voracious reader. You never saw Rudy killing time – he always had a book in his hands.
It’s rather unusual in Filipino culture for a high school student to be working part-time, unlike in America where high school kids are commonly working part-time jobs. His love for work was further confirmed when after HS graduation many of us proceeded to college while Rudy decided to forego college for working full-time. Not long after, he decided to go to college, finishing his Bachelor’s in Business and his MBA. He even spent a few years as Instructor at the University of the Philippines College of Business.
After college and after meeting the love of his life, he decided to get married and raised a beautiful and talented family. While working in the Philippines, a life-changing event happened to the family: Rudy was recruited by S.C. Johnson to work in sales at their headquarters in Racine. He worked so hard that he earned coveted recognition awards, foremost of which was the International Manager’s Award which he won twice. He also won several District Sales Manager’s awards.
He did such a good job in this capacity that before long he was promoted to an executive position, in charge of a whole country, Puerto Rico and some surrounding Caribbean islands. Following a successful assignment in Puerto Rico, he was brought back to Racine continuing his executive sales and marketing job. It was at this time that he and Elvi joined our University of the Philippines Alumni Association of WI. As busy as Rudy was in his new assignment, he found time to lead UPAA as president of the Association for two years, 1982 and 1995. Rudy implemented new initiatives for the Association as president and as a long-time member of the Scholarship Committee he devoted enormous amount of time in helping evaluate students’ credentials as part of the selection process.
Elvi, on the other hand, immersed herself in choreographing and directing the dance presentations of the Association during the holiday seasons for the entertainment of our members and guests. Additionally, as member of the Value Our Heritage Committee, she made invaluable contributions in putting up cultural art exhibits at the Milwaukee Public Museum and Filipino dances at the Milwaukee Public Library during UPAA’s anniversary celebrations.
One of the many traits of Rudy that I love was his competitiveness. This was most evident in our common love for the game of golf. While competitiveness sometimes brought ill effects to others, the effect was the exact opposite in our friendship – it drew us closer together. Friendly competition brought out the best in the both of us. With him as my opponent, instead of shooting 100 or higher, I broke 100. And with me as his opponent, he shot in the 80’s instead of 90’s. Although disappointing for me, I still enjoyed playing with him. After all, I always had an alibi in losing to him: As always, I would say, “I was not competing against you, brother, I was competing against the golf course,” which was easier to say than “I lost.”
As much as he loved golf, Rudy did not allow his love of the game to interfere with his love for his family. Not once in the 50 or so years that we played golf together did he readily answer YES, when I called him for a round. Invariably, he would say first, “let me ask Ma.” Other golfers may think that Rudy had asthma! Not me. I knew he had no qualms about asking Elvi first if he was needed to work in her garden, or if they might have an appointment which he might have forgotten, or if the children were coming home, or anything connected with family obligations. This is a message I am happy to share with other golfers … FAMILY FIRST, unless you have a tee time at Pebble Beach!
I would like to quote Jack Nicklaus, holder of 18 major tournament wins, in his tribute to his competitor and friend, at Arnold Palmer’s memorial service on Tuesday. “Today I hurt, just like you hurt. You don’t lose a friend of over 60 years and not suffer an enormous loss. But like my wife always says, ‘The memories are the cushions of life.’ My memories of Rudy are the cushions of my life.
I now end the privilege of delivering my tribute to my good friend with a poem. The title of the poem is:
Do not stand at my grave and weep. By Mary Fryer
(I’d like you to savor the message of this poem. Listen to Rudy as he recites the poem).
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
Rudy, my friend, you did not die … You live in our hearts.