Richard Ramirez, a top editor at the Mercury News, has been found dead in his home in Livermore, and police are investigating, the Merc reported. Ramirez, 44, came to the Mercury News in 1984 as an intern and went on to hold several positions, including reporter, assistant state editor and his most recent role as assistant to the executive editor. Executive Editor Carole Leigh Hutton said, "Rich's death is a tragedy that has stunned all of us ... He had a gentility about him that made him very easy to work with, but his professionalism and commitment to this newspaper and its community were always clear."
Ramirez had been active in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and served as chairman of the local planning committee that helped host the group's annual convention in San Jose last week. He mentored young journalists.
"I just saw him on Sunday and I said, 'goodbye,' and thanked him for being such a great leader. I'm just speechless," said Veronica Villafañe, former president of the NAHJ and co-chair of this year's convention.
Ramirez is survived by his wife, Janet Dalke.
No details were given in the Merc story about the nature of his death or why police are investigating.
Here's a link to an online guest book the Merc has set up for friends to share their thoughts and condolences. (Photo credit: Peninsula Press Club -- Rich was photographed during this year's award's banquet.)