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Obituary - Gene Ramos, consummate pro who sifted diamonds from dust

Eugenio “Gene” Ramos, the long-standing dean of the press corps at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington DC, died May 16 in New York City. He was 76.

A consummate pro who could sift diamonds from dust in arcane SEC documents, Gene is remembered for sharing his time and expertise with the mostly young journalists in the agency’s windowless basement pressroom. Starting in the 1980s at States News Service, and then with McGraw-Hill’s short-lived news wire before joining Reuters in 1990, Ramos covered the SEC when potentially market-moving information was delivered each hour in towering stacks of paper.

“Buried in there would be announcements by Fortune 500 companies in a major merger and acquisition, a corporate raider taking a controlling stake in a public company, or material updates on a company’s financial condition,” Gene’s competitor and then Reuters colleague Stella Dawson recalls. “The pile was so overwhelming that the reporters had agreed to divide up the filings, and if you found an M&A, share it with competitors under a mutually agreed embargo - It was the only way to prevent fistfights and chaos, “ she relates.  

“I can hear him now, shouting, ‘14c!’ (a document companies had to file before shareholder meetings, worth sharing) … or ‘It’s only (activist investor and frequent filer) Mario Gabelli again,’” Stella wrote in a remembrance.

Ramos’s generosity extended to helping when Dawson bought her first fixer-upper house. “Unasked, Gene came over one afternoon with paint brushes in hand and worked until we had repainted and made one room habitable,” she recalled. “’In the Philippines, you help your neighbor raise their new house,’ he told me. “It was the measure of an immensely kind and considerate man.”

After some six years covering the SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington, Gene moved to New York, covering equities for a year before transferring to the energy desk. “I can still remember writing about crude oil when its price was just $10 a barrel,” he wrote in a farewell email in 2012 after more than 22 years with Reuters.

“The journey I am ending today caps more than 40 years of work as a journalist, having started in Manila as a business reporter at the anti-Marcos paper The Manila Chronicle before joining Business Day, the first business daily in Southeast Asia … I also had a short stint as a correspondent for a Philippine wire service, covering the Middle East, and based in Jeddah.”

Ramos’s love of music was legend, with a guitar never far out of reach. He was the lead guitarist of the Deltons group in his younger days. Beatles songs were among his many favorites.