Ramiro had a voice like a cat's belly. It was irresistible.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the Latin American program, he could soothe a frazzled ego in seconds. He'd wrap you in his conspiratorial laugh. And that voice.
I knew him only well enough to see that he believed grace and humour could help you get through life. And now he's gone.
Cancer took him, but not before he got a laugh in. The last film Ramiro made -- he made films, too -- contrasted nightmarish footage of a colonoscopy with the story of a man who's misdiagnosed, then hit by cancer, then by the full wallop of the cancer industry.
He called it Topic Of Cancer, and it was actually whimsical. Ramiro made a movie about his own mortal illness that was funny. He was like that.
Everything he did was touched by his bemused sense of being a Colombian living in a strange, cold city.
He'd left Bogotá when he was only 20 to study acting in England -- he acted, too -- but living here broadened and maybe even deepened his ties to Latin America.
His 1994 film Crucero/Crossroads adapted the play by Argentine-Canadian Guillermo Verdecchia.
And back in 1988 he whipped up a pan-American salsa band, Ramiro's Latin Orchestra. Down at the Bamboo they specialized in separating people from their sweat.
He was a musician, too.
Ramiro's work helped introduce Latin America and this place to each other. And he did it with laughs, with his eyes all crinkled up and with that voice.
He died early Friday morning, January 4.
His wife, Leslie Lester, suggests that donations can be made to the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care, at 700 University, 3rd floor, Toronto M5G 1Z5.