Putnam County educator, veteran dies after contracting COVID-19

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Family, friends and the Putnam County School District are mourning the loss of an Army veteran and longtime educator, who died at age 47 after contracting the coronavirus.

Elias Ramirez was a father and grandfather. His son, who shares his dad’s name, says his father’s personality could light up the room.

“No matter where you’re from, he could make you laugh and you’d always have good conversation with him,” the younger Ramirez said.

A little over two weeks ago, Ramirez said his dad began having flu-like symptoms. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and ended up in an intensive care unit.

“As soon as he went to the ER the first time, they instantly treated it as it was COVID,” Ramirez’s son said. “Once he was home and his symptoms got worse, he had to go back, and I think two days after that the test results came back as positive for covid.”

While he was in the hospital, dozens of family members, friends and colleagues gathered to pray outside his window one night.

On Tuesday, he passed away, leaving behind five children and several grandchildren.

“He was a strong person and one word I could describe him is he’s legendary, like he just was awesome, always helped people. He was very, very involved with the students,” the younger Ramirez said.

He said his father taught at Miller Middle School in Putnam County for several years before becoming the dean of students.

In a Facebook post, the school said in part, "He was a true educator who had high expectations for all of our students, prioritized relationships, and fiercely cheered all of our students on towards academics, positive behavior and sports."

Ramirez said that as he gets older, he hopes to impact people the same way that his dad did. He is reminding people during this pandemic, to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

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