Virginia Ramo, USC alumna and Board of Trustees member, died Aug. 19 of natural causes. She was 93.
Famous at USC for her enthusiastic philanthropy, Ramo and her husband Simon donated and fundraised more than $310 million over a 40-year period for the USC Flora L. Thornton School of Music.
Although Ramo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1937, she had a lifelong passion for music — she played the saxophone in a women’s orchestra while at USC and throughout her life referred to Thornton as “her” school.
The Ramos gave $1 million to build the Virginia Ramo Hall of Music, dedicated in 1974. Last year, Ramo gave money to renovate a practice room in Booth Memorial Hall, which has been renamed performance facility Simon Ramo Recital Hall.
Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta said Ramo truly exemplified a committed member of the Trojan Family.
By funding two of the most important buildings in the music school, Ramo Hall and Ramo Recital Hall, Cutietta said Ramo provided students with the specific facilities they needed.
“She stayed very dedicated and very involved, both through her donations and her time,” Cutietta said. “She has a very real and concrete impact on what the students do here every day.”
Ramo’s distinguishing characteristics were her attention to detail and willingness to act as a liaison between Thornton and the greater Los Angeles community, Cutietta said.
“Virginia would give me advice and she would take the time to make sure that everything was always taken care of and that important introductions were made,” Cutietta said.
Ramo and her husband endowed the Ramo Music Faculty Award in 1971, which provides one Thornton School of Music faculty member each May with $10,000 to support professional development.
“The Ramo Award is considered to be the most prestigious faculty award in the Thornton School of Music,” said Dorothy Ditmer, director of personnel for Thornton. “She was so interested in what was going on with faculty and students.”
Larry Livingston, who served as the Thornton dean from 1986 to 2002, said when he first met Ramo in 1985, he was deeply impressed with her role as a passionate and loyal friend of the school.
“She was one of the most important figures in the entire exterior part of the university,” Livingston said. “This is a significant loss because she was a historical figure in the evolution of the university.”
Ramo and her husband were also passionate about contributing to the Keck School of Medicine, Cutietta said. She extended her support to programs ranging from annual giving to medical research at her alma mater.
In 1999, the Keck School of Medicine’s Board of Overseers saw its first year under the guidance of the Ramos, who served as the Board’s inaugural co-chairs.
“Mrs. Ramo’s contributions as a member of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Board of Overseers are invaluable,” Keck Dean Carmen A. Puliafito wrote in an email. “Her impact on the Keck School of Medicine and USC will not be forgotten.”
Ramo also served as the USC Board of Trustees vice chairman from 1986 to 1991.
A fundraising campaign she co-chaired for the university’s centennial raised $309 million between 1976 and 1980 — a university record at the time, the Los Angeles Times said.
Ramo received the Presidential Medallion, the university’s highest award, in 2002, the USC Thornton School of Music’s Founders Award and numerous other university accolades.
Ramo is survived by her husband, two sons and four grandchildren.
Memorial services for Ramo will be held on campus later this fall.