On the 3rd of February 1934, Serafin Avila Ramón was born in Umbarger, Texas. He was the seventh child of Zaragoza Gonzalez Ramón and Ignacia Avila. At 86 years of age, Serafin passed from this life on the 4th of December 2021.
Serafin, most commonly known as Fin, grew up with his parents, two brothers, and three sisters. (Three siblings passed away at young ages.) As young children, Fin and his siblings roamed the prairies. They learned the native plants and often hunted and cooked rabbits over a fire. Adventures included finding an old Indian camp full of arrow heads, running for their lives out of the Beaver River as a wall of water rushed in, enduring locust swarms and monstrous dust storms. Fin’s early life on the prairie nurtured his lifelong interest in Mother Nature and curiosity as a scientist.
He attended school in Stratford, Texas, where he excelled as a student and an athlete. He played on the basketball and baseball teams. Being ambidextrous, he was both a switch pitcher and a switch hitter. According to his sister Feliz, he would practice pitching for hours when he did not have other responsibilities.
In the fall of 1953, Fin went to Panhandle A&M College (PAMC) in Goodwell, Oklahoma, where he played on the basketball and baseball teams. He pitched regularly for the baseball team, and was high point guard his freshman year. After his sophomore year, his family needed funds to help take care of his mother who had fallen ill. He gave up his college savings and athletics and began working more hours for wages. In spite of this, he stayed very active in campus life. He was an active member of the biology and museum clubs as well as serving as co-editor of the PAMC Collegian campus newspaper. Honors included the Marvin E McKee Outstanding Freshman Award. Honors later in life included induction into the OPSU Alumni Hall of Fame and 2021 OPSU Homecoming Family of the Year.
As a student, Fin caught the eye of professors Dr. Harold Hefley and Nolen McWhirter. These men took him under their wings, served as wonderful mentors, and their families became his.
These men were instrumental in shaping his future career as a biology professor and their friendships were lifelong.
Beginning his senior year, Fin met Francina VaLois Pittman of Beaver, Oklahoma, when she enrolled at PAMC in the fall of 1956. In the fall of 1957, Serafin transferred to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to work on his master’s degree. Shortly thereafter, in January 1958, VaLois went to Albuquerque where they eloped and were married on January 22, 1958. Their marriage lasted until VaLois passed away on February 6th, 2021.
Fin and VaLois returned to Goodwell in 1959 where they lived the rest of their lives, with the exception of two years spent in Lawrence, Kansas, where Fin earned a PHD in Cytogenetics. Together they raised three children: Amos Tindle Pittman Ramón, Feliza Diane Ramón Carter and Serafin Tenoch Ramón. All three graduated from Goodwell High School and Panhandle State University.
Fin's service to education stretched beyond his service at OPSU. He served on the Goodwell ISD school board for twenty-two years. During this time, he also served on the Oklahoma State School Board Association (OSSBA) and was president of the association in 1989 - 1990. As president of the OSSBA, he delivered a controversial yet pivotal speech highlighting the low numbers of women in school administration. His efforts began discussions and contributed to the advancement of women into administrative positions in Oklahoma public schools. He also served on the board of the Southwest Education Development Laboratory.
Teaching his children community service by example, Fin was an active member of the Goodwell Lions Club, Methodist Men, and served on the Yucca Girl Scout Council for many years. As a Girl Scout project, he helped form a girl’s community softball team that he then coached for several years. He would regularly take Tindle or Tenoch to help him mow and clean the yard of one of several elderly widow ladies in Goodwell. He would not accept payment except for the offer of a cold drink and sometimes some fresh homemade bread.
He also taught by example how to be a loving grandfather. Known as Papa, he always had time to give a part of himself to his grandchildren. His encouragement, intelligence, kind and gentle manner, and moral compass have had lasting influence on their lives. He was not a man that handed an upset baby off to the nearest mom. In fact, he would seek them out, take them in his arms and give them his patented Papa pat and bounce. In a few short minutes, they would be asleep in his arms. All his grandchildren cherished his kiss on the cheek and “Okay, love you sweetie”.
Last and certainly not least, Fin was a talented golfer. He enjoyed playing golf with family and friends as well as watching PGA and LPGA tournaments on TV. When he began playing, he used right-handed clubs for two years because left-handed clubs were rare. He enjoyed golf the remainder of his life, playing his final nine holes just three weeks prior to his death.
He is survived by three children, Tindle Ramón and wife, Kristi, of Spearman, Texas; Feliza and husband, Todd Carter, of Liberal, Kansas; Tenoch Ramón and wife, Rene, of Goodwell, Oklahoma, and sisters, Feliz Fields and Amelia Miller. Beloved grandchildren are Elizabeth Taylor, Amber and Dustin King, Lindsey and Michael Fields, Nicole and Eric Neumeier, Ryan and Erika Ramón, Cayden Ramón, and Kya Ramón. He was blessed with twelve great-grandchildren: Logan and Hadley Taylor; Brooklyn, Harper and William King; Preston, Finn, Scarlett and Charlie Neumeier; Paisley and Canaan Ramón; and Avery Fields, and one great-great granddaughter Haisley Sage Taylor. He is also survived by three sisters and brothers-in-law; Vera and Terry Floyd, Erma and Gerald Costner, Amy and Kenneth Cole; one sister-in-law; Edeane Ramón and numerous nieces and nephews.
Fin was preceded in death by his wife, Francina VaLois, and his parents, Zaragoza and Ignacia Ramón. Siblings preceding in death were Ignacia, Zaragosa, Tenoch, Patria, Gregorio, and Crecenio. Honorary family members preceding in death were Harold & Vera Hefley and Nolen and Marie McWhirter.
Serafin’s memorial service will be held Saturday, December 18th at 2:00 PM in the Goodwell High School Auditorium. A family visitation will be held Thursday, December 16th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Henson-Novak Funeral Home. The service will be broadcast on the Henson- Novak Facebook page.
Memorials may be made to the Dr. Serafin Ramón Science Scholarship c/o Henson-Novak Funeral Home, PO Box 1306, Guymon, OK 73942.