Ramon Aguirre is a retired gentleman, a volunteer interpreter for Lake Area Free Clinic and a member of Oconomowoc Rotary Club. He is a spirited, enthusiastic storyteller, and he has penned a book about his life, ‘Ramon’, the proceeds from which are donated to the clinic.
Ramon tends to gardens around his eclectic Fowler Lake home that are as enchanting and sizable as his heart. We think it may have been fate that we met with Ramon around Valentine’s Day. We’d like to thank him for his hospitality and for chatting with us about his about his life in Mexico, Chicago and Oconomowoc.
Question: What inspired you or led you to where you are now in life?
Answer: “I retired in 2012, but whatever I am, Tom Snyder (known as Mr. Oconomowoc and the proprietor of Snyder’s Fine Clothes) had something to do with it. He helped me to see the world differently, and his family welcomed me with open arms. From Jalisco, Mexico, I was the eighth of 15 kids. I worked in a factory taking measurements, which I was very good at, and also owned a Chicago area cleaning company with many employees.
I become a citizen of the United States after the Snyder family and our friends wrote letters and petitioned the White House, immigration, and state judges. Tom hosted a huge party with more than 350 people in attendance, and even arranged for mariachis from Chicago to play for the guests.”
Q. What is your favorite restaurant in Lake Country, and what do you love there?
A. “I really liked No Place when it was around. Also, the Red Circle Inn, my favorite part is the assorted cheese and crackers that they bring to the table prior to the meal!”
Q. How long have you lived or worked in Lake Country?
A. “I started coming to Oconomowoc in 1972 as a weekender, working during the week in Chicago, and as time went on I was spending more time here.”
Q. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Lake Country?
A. “Tom Snyder, my dear friend, my best friend in the whole world. I believe that God spoke to our souls, and told Tom to look down and me to look up and that’s where we saw each other.”
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A. “To fulfill our dreams, I’d like to visit South Africa, Australia and Costa Rica. Tom and I traveled a lot, and enjoyed places such as Ireland, Spain, France, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Mexico.”
Q. What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
A. “Dr. Zhivago.”
Q. What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A. “Find qualities that you admire and enjoy among your friends, and not the defects, as you won’t be able to change them.”
Q. What is your favorite music?
A. “Musicals! I also like Olivia Newton-John, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion. I love to sing! And I love to do karaoke, and some of my favorite songs to perform include ‘My Heart Will Go On’, ‘Send In the Clowns’, ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Oconomowoc’ (my variation of the song from Evita) and an a capella version of ‘God Bless America’”.
Q. Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why?
A. “I love Neil Diamond, I’ve seen four of his concerts, including the Coming to America tour, which touched my heart. Tom surprised me with three tickets to the show, but I couldn’t choose just one other person to go with us. So Tom got four more tickets, and then ten more, and soon we had bus reservations to take our group to see the show in Milwaukee. After the show, we had reservations at Elsa’s on the Park, and Karl never accepts reservations, but he did for us!”
Q. What is your favorite thing or something unique about Lake Country?
A. “I’m enjoying the changes around town. I love what they’re doing with Tom’s old building. Also, I agree with building the condos, it’s progress and you can’t stop progress. If there would be no changes, Oconomowoc wouldn’t exist.”
Q. Even for friends or family, what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A. “That I love everybody. I’ve been asked if I’ve felt discriminated against being an immigrant from Mexico. I do not. The discrimination is in the other person’s mind, not my own. Also, I used to be fluent in the Polish language.”
Q. What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word home?
A. “My gardens, having fun with friends and doing volunteer work. I enjoy hosting parties for friends and fundraisers. The only party rules at this house are to arrive at 5pm with no departure time, and make your own drink. If I pour your drink, I’ll pour the whole bottle into it!”
Q. If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A. “Julia Roberts.”
Ramon concluded by sharing with us that he loves his two families, his family in Mexico and the Snyder family, equally. Tragically, the two families have never met each other, so Ramon’s book is something he is able to leave behind for them.
Interview by Dani Austin-Rauch and Laurie Stewart.
The Faces of Lake Country is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured, please click the button below.