ROCHESTER — Amparo Ramos, who owned and operated one of the first Latino grocery stores in Rochester with her husband, died July 16, 2012. She was 90.
Mrs. Ramos was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, and moved to Rochester with three young children to follow her husband, Luis, who had arrived years earlier as a migrant worker, said her daughter, Wanda Ramos. The couple was married 68 years.
Before the Ramos’ opened their first store on North Clinton Avenue, they operated a tiny corner shop where Mrs. Ramos would cook and sell such traditional foods as pinto beans, alcapurrias and rellenos de papa, said her son, Jim Ramos.
"That’s how they made the money to buy their first store," he explained.
Ramos Market opened in the mid-1950s, and his parents were able to expand to a second location in northeast Rochester, added Jim Ramos. His dad oversaw the butcher area, he said.
His mother ran the first store and allowed big families — many who were like his family with seven children or more — to buy on credit since they were struggling to make ends meet as they settled in the city from Puerto Rico, he added.
"Any help she could give them, she would give them," Jim Ramos said. "We were known in the community. People would come to us and mom would give them all credit … or help with anything they needed like clothing."
In the little spare time she had, Mrs. Ramos also would take families to different agencies in the community who could help them with jobs or housing such as Action for a Better Community or Ibero-American Action League, he added. The couple also invested money to start the first radio station for the Hispanic community, Jim Ramos said.
"She was very giving, very religious," he added. "Plenty of times, I remember as a child, families would come to the store with nothing and she would give them food for free."
The family attended St. Bridget Church and he and all his siblings were baptized there and celebrated their first Communions there. Many of his siblings attended the school at St. Bridget until they migrated to St. Michael Church where family members eventually became parishioners, Jim Ramos said. His mother served as a spiritual role model and prayed two hours a day, he added.
"The family helped the community in a huge way," noted Bernardo Benítez, a family friend.
The family was forced to close its stores and the buildings were torn down as part of urban renewal in the 1970s, Jim Ramos explained. Subsequently, his mother went on to work for many years at the Bausch and Lomb factories until she retired, he added.
"We were all very close to my mom," Jim Ramos said. "She will always be in our hearts."
Mrs. Ramos is survived by her husband, Luis A. Ramos; daughters and sons-in-law, Marie and Rafael Valle, and Wanda and Doug Smith; sons and daughters-in-law Wilson and Myong Ramos Cruz, Joe and Cecilia Ramos, Hewitt and Migdalia Ramos, Dixon and Omary Ramos, and Jim and Evonda Ramos; 14 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and sisters, Librada Robles Ramos and Nelida Villanueva.