Obituary: Joy Ramies, longtime Portola Valley resident


Joy Jean Ramies, a member of a family with deep roots in Portola Valley, died Sept. 24, at a rest home in Mountain View. She was 83. A celebration of her life has been held.

Joy Jean Neal was born in 1933 in Auburn, Nebraska, during the Dust Bowl, a multi-year drought captured in John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" about a family that left a failing, re-possessed farm in a rickety old car and headed to California. Joy made that trip in 1935 at the age of 2 in the company of her 4-year-old sister, with the girls' mother doing the driving.

Joy met Martin Ramies, her future husband, in Portola Valley when she was 6, Martin said. They grew up in town, attended the town's one-room school, and dated while Joy was waiting tables at La Casa Blanca (or Mama Garcia's), a diner on Alpine Road in the vicinity of Nathorst Avenue.

Joy married Martin in 1954, a year after he returned from serving in the Army in Korea. The couple had three sons. Mr. Ramies eventually bought Portola Valley Garage, an auto repair shop now run by his son Tom. Son Ron Ramies owns Portola Valley Fuel, an auto repair shop and gas station.

As a mother, Ms. Ramies practiced "helicopter" parenting, hovering over their every activity, Tom and Ron said. "If we sneezed, she took us to the doctor," Ron said.

The family lived on Portola Road, across from a field that is now the site of Woodside Priory School. The boys would play there, but not unobserved. Their mother used binoculars to watch them, calling out if they disappeared from sight, Ron said.

When Ms. Ramies packed school lunches for her kids, they were truly packed. An apple, for example, would be washed with soap and water, wrapped in cellophane, wrapped in foil, placed in a baggie, and the baggie placed inside a lunch bag, Ron said.

Getting to the apple "was like unwinding a golf ball," Tom said.

"When the Ziploc bag was invented, that was her best friend," Ron said.

Ms. Ramies' passion was raising her children and she loved meeting people, Ron said. The couple attended every athletic contest in which their sons participated, Ron said.

"It was a very simple life," Ron said. "Our parents weren't educated, but they taught us enough that we did really well in school."

After his mother entered a rest home in Mountain View, Ron would deliver her a mid-morning meal of fettuccini Alfredo pasta with a butter, cream and cheese sauce. "It got to the point where she wouldn't eat anything else," he said. "It kind of kept her going."

He bought noodles at Roberts Market but at one point switched to noodles from Costco. She noticed. "She busted me," Ron said.

Ms. Ramies is survived by her husband, Martin, and her sons Ron, Bob and Tom, all of whom live in Portola Valley. There are eight grandchildren.


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