We Made It: The Life And Artwork Of Ramon Yusi

Yusi Family

This book was compiled for the Yusi family, to give them a modest record of one man's great legacy. In truth, the Yusi family did most of the work. As I organize his life in pictures and words, I feel humbled by his struggle and character. I only hope that this can reflect a portion of Ramon's worth to the world. Fond thoughts go to Josephine, who never left Ramon's side. Ray Jr., the strong, older brother. Dennis, who is a great artist himself and did a great part in editing this book. And, Diane who, I believe, embodies her father's kind spirit.

EDITED BY*:
Phillip Rhodes, Cathie Rhodes, Vicki Rhodes & C.F. Alexander, Jr.
Original autobiography edited by Dennis Yusi.
All Rights Reserved.

THE LIFE AND ARTWORK OF RAMON YUSI


Narrative text copyright © 2006 by Phillip Rhodes
We Made It copyright © Ramon Yusi 1997
We Made It edited by Dennis Yusi.
All artwork copyright © by the Ramon Yusi Estate.
No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed 
in any form or by any means extant or electronic 
(including photocopying and Internet uploads) 
without the prior written consent of the publisher 
except in the case of brief quotations of the text 
to be embodied in magazine reviews or newspaper articles. Address other quotation requests to the publisher.

Published by Phillip Rhodes.
P.O. Box 1442
Clemson, South Carolina 29693

ISBN: 1-59111-022-X

Paraphrased from the third-person original & edited by Cathie Rhodes & Vickie Rhodes.

Adapted & edited by Phillip Rhodes.

Additional content editing, book/cover design & publication consulting by Chris F. Alexander, Jr.

Please direct inquiries for publication & editorial services to: paperback@charter.net
Printed in the United States of America.
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Dedication:

THIS BOOK was compiled for the Yusi family, to give them a modest record of one man's great legacy. In truth, the Yusi family did most of the work. As I organize his life in pictures and words, I feel humbled by his struggle and character. I only hope that this can reflect a portion of Ramon's worth to the world. Fond thoughts go to Josephine, who never left Ramon's side. Ray Jr., the strong, older brother. Dennis, who is a great artist himself and did a great part in editing this book. And, Diane who, I believe, embodies her father's kind spirit.

— Phillip Rhodes


Still life study done at Fordham University evening painting course.

CHANCE BEGINNINGS

THE FOLLOWING NARRATIVE WAS adapted from WE MADE IT, an autobiography written by Ramon Yusi during the last years of his life.

Mr. Yusi was born on July 9, 1912. He married Josephine Koztecki in1936  and they had three children: Ramon Jr., Dennis, and Diane. Ramon was always a hard worker and dedicated himself to his family throughout his lifetime. His career as a sign maker saw the development of many artistic talents until his retirement in the early seventies, after which he made his most significant contributions as an artist and built his collection of oil-on-canvas portraits into the hundreds.

Ramon working at his desk circa 1937.

The modest recognition Ramon received for his more-than-modest influence on commercial lettering, outdoor advertising, and portrait art—all his broader and inestimable influences on the face of New York City and the pop culture of the "great generation" put aside—came down to him when he was rather advanced in years and following a lifetime of varied struggle and success. However, his artistic development began quite early in life, as did the career with which it was inexorably intertwined.

It all began when Ramon, a lad of just fourteen years, heard about a job at a local sign shop and traveled by bus to White Plains, NY to inquire. The storeowner was Joe Mulvey, a billboard sketch artist who had previously been employed by Gude and the General Outdoor Advertising Company.

Winter view of downtown and the Empire State Building shot from the offices of Associated Displays where Ramon Worked.

While working with a man named Clarence D. Underwood (famous for the Palmolive Girl soap ad), Joe ran out of his favorite cigarettes, which happened to be Camels. Commenting, "Boy, I could stand a good smoke. Right now, I'd walk a mile for a Camel cigarette," the Camel catch phrase was born and appeared in ads across the country. So Joe needed help in the shop and Ramon had come along at just the right time. He consented to work for ten dollars a week, despite his having to spend three dollars on bus fare from Port Chester, where he lived. Out of kindness, Joe proposed they split the cost of the fee, to which Ramon quickly agreed. During the two-month summer vacation from school, Ramon worked every day in Joe's shop.

These completed commercial assignments were done in 1927 while Ramon was a correspondence student of the Federal School of Commercial Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, to which he had won a scholarship.

With four sisters and a brother, Ramon felt it his responsibility to continue painting signs as a side job when school started back in the fall. The little extra income was important to the large family, and he managed to attend classes during the school year and still go to Joe's shop on afternoons and weekends.

A few years later, in 1929, the entire nation fell victim to the Great Depression. In Ramon's own words, "It was nip and tuck from then on." Seventeen at the time and realizing that something drastic had to be done, he resolved to rent a garage at six dollars a month. Stores were doing all they could to encourage business, including numerous reductions and sales offerings. With this environment, Ramon found sign work rather easily.

Pen-and-Ink poster for the athletic program of 
Port Chester High School, Port Chester, New York.

He started with paper signs advertising for daily specials to be displayed in shop windows. While these promotions helped some businesses scrape by, for others it simply was not enough—but even those situations created work for Ramon. He stayed busy painting "Going out of business," "Bargains," and "Now opening" signs, and even crafted new names on store fronts. It wasn't long before the competition caught on to his untapped enterprise, causing him to lower his commission to maintain customers. This cycle became arduous for him as he continued his high school education. In spite of the hardships of the times, Ramon had talent on his side to aid in his quest for success. He was artistically gifted, but also a bright student with athletic ability.In 1928, he received the National Scholastic Award and served as football team captain. He drew an exquisite pen and ink cover for the Port Chester High School Year Book, the Peningian, displaying the portrait of a brave Native American. Despite all his personal achievements in school, Ramon decided (along with other friends) to discontinue his education just six months shy of graduation.


Working out of the garage was far from convenient for him, and Ramon sought other opportunities. An artist friend of his who had also quit school, Al Ceruzzi, suggested that they go into business together and work out of his father's store, which was vacant at the time. The two worked together for about a year before Ramon decided to venture out on his own, despite the free rent.

Al was just learning how to letter, and while his work was good quality, Ramon was burdened with most of the work. So Ramon started his first solo business at age nineteen in a store on Pearl St. in Port Chester, NY.

In stark contrast to his previous workspace, the rent was twenty-five dollars a month with winter heating not included. He struggled for about a year as business sporadically trickled in, yielding about ten to twelve dollars a week. Taking advantage of this lull in business in a way that would pay off well for him later, Ramon experimented with creative types of lettering styles and layouts. These skills would soon take him to new places in the art of commercial signing that he could not have foreseen then and perhaps to the most glamorous phase of his career in years to come—the movie industry.

Movie posters along with other commercial assignments from the Federal School of Commercial Designing


Also during this time, he would often gaze out of the big store window that faced the street and watch the people and cars go by. One day, while looking out at the normal scene, he noticed something different. Someone had caught his eye; her name was Josephine. He made up his mind to introduce himself and offered to walk her home one evening. "I don't need anybody to walk me home," she replied. Ramon's persistence and charm won her over, and she consented to his escort. From then on, their relationship grew from an acquaintance to friendship to courtship. Ramon and "Jo," as he called her, set their sights on marriage and started making plans. The sign business was not the most profitable endeavor and hardly consistent, so Ramon decided to obtain a regular job to save wedding money.


A finished "comp" for a Skouras Theatre poster.

While walking downtown one day, he met an architect friend, Lour Settino, and mentioned his situation. He suggested that Ramon call on Frank Sylos, who was working for Skouras theaters in Port Chester and Greenwich, CT. Frank was giving up his position with Skouras for a job as a Hollywood art director in the motion picture industry. He had hired a replacement, L. Danzig, who needed a letterer. Danzig offered Ramon fifteen dollars a week, which he accepted gladly. At the height of the Depression, to have a steady job was rather unusual and he considered himself lucky to have such an opportunity. The job encompassed posters for three shows weekly for two theaters: The Capitol and the Pickwick. The studio later contracted work from two other theaters in Ossining: The Cameo and The Victoria Theater.

NEW LIVES

EXTRA THEATERS MEANT extra work and Ramon stayed late into the nights to keep up. He would letter through the night on Fridays until about nine-thirty on Saturdays in order to have Sundays off. These additions raised Ramon's salary by ten dollars, bringing his weekly earnings to a grand total of twenty-five dollars, which was substantial enough to sustain a marriage.

After saving four hundred dollars, Jo and Ramon set a date for April 25, 1936. The wedding was small with just family in attendance. Ramon arranged for a short honeymoon, a luxury back then, by working nights to have both Saturday and Sunday off. The newlyweds stayed at the Hotel Lexington that night and spent the next day in New York City.


Shortly after their marriage, Danzig gave up theater work and Ramon took over his poster business. John Lasko, sixteen at the time, was hired to help cut letters from the "compo board" used in displays and additionally given responsibility for most of the artwork. The youngster was a good worker and talented artist in spite of his age. With Ramon lettering and John designing the pictorial aspects, their poster business grew to include two more theaters, including the Scarsdale.

The two worked countless hours and often through the night. This created a somewhat lonely household for Jo, but she would often stop by the studio to visit with Ramon as he worked late. The situation was not the most desirable for a newly married couple, but times were tough and steady business was a good thing.

After about two years in which Skouras Theaters provided most of the work, the company decided to discontinue their art department, and this effectively put Ramon out of work. At this time, the young couple had a new addition to the family, Ramon Jr., whom they called Tay Jr."

With a new baby, Ramon had even more to support, and work was getting hard to come by. Finally, he opened a sign studio in Larchmont and managed to lure a small amount of business but nothing significant. John Laska had been able to take a position in New York City as a theater poster artist. He informed Ramon of an opportunity as a poster letterer, which he accepted and continued for two years, until 1939.

The family moved to Woodhaven in Queens to be closer to Ramon's new job. Just as they were beginning to climb out of debt, the company was confronted with the decision to "go union" or close; it chose the latter.

Ramon searched for similar positions to no avail and the Yusis resolved to return to Port Chester. He tried working part-time in various sign shops, but work was inconsistent and finances were running low. Ramon opened a small sign shop in a loft, but business was slow and he eventually fell two months behind on rent. Realizing he needed to do something drastic, he placed the majority of his furniture in storage, making fourteen trips in his own small truck, before moving the rest into his shop. To make the loft livable for his wife and young son, he partitioned it into segments using material he procured from a building across the street. The owner, one of Ramon's customers, offered sheet rock panels and two by fours from the demolished structure if Ramon would haul it away himself.

After some fancy maneuvering through traffic Ramon had got the materials to the house and constructed the partitions in the loft. The Yusis now had just enough room for a studio, bed, refrigerator, gas stove, kitchen set and a crib. Business improved due to the fact that Ramon was established and well known in a nice part of town, but he still owed about eighty dollars in back rent to his previous landlord. He had built up his credit at the bank, which he used to borrow one hundred dollars on a ninety-day note. After paying the back rent, he and Jo struggled to situate in the tiny loft. They did not have a bathtub or shower and managed with only a toilet and small sink. After hearing about the tight living conditions, Ramon's landlord objected to the arrangement and the Yusis were forced to relocate.

Times were tough but busy, and the "ole panel truck" was ever on the go.

NEW HORIZONS

RAMON RENTED a vacant loft for his sign business and a three-room apartment on the second floor for his young family. With the aid of his small panel truck, he transported the bulk of his furniture in shifts to their new abode. At one point during the move, Ramon was attempting to maneuver a couch single-handedly up the flight of stairs. At the top of the stairwell, it became wedged in the doorway pinning Ramon underneath. He tried shimmying back and forth to dislodge the couch, but without success. Hearing all the huffing, puffing, and grunting, Jo finally investigated the ruckus. She studied the situation for a moment before giving one good shove, which freed both captive parties. With the furniture finally settled, the couple had a big laugh about the incident.

Sherwood Island (top), a favorite spot for the Koztecki-Yusi picnics. Bottom: a painting done near the Art Barn in Barkesville, Connecticut


Late one night, Ramon was drawing a cartoon of a man holding a broken pencil while looking at it in a questioning way. The caption beneath read: "This can't happen to you." Meanwhile, Jo was standing on a stool arranging a stack of heavy plywood cards on an improvised rack so Ramon could screen them. She was just placing the last card atop the pile when suddenly she found herself buried under a heap of posters on the floor. To Ramon's curiosity and relief she didn't cry out but remained quiet for a moment, as if in a state of shock. Then, reading the catch phrase on the posters aloud, she burst into hysterical laughter—as Ramon did likewise when he realized what she was looking at: "This can't happen to you..."

Photos from the mid 1930s


The added space of the new home greatly improved the family's daily life. Five years after the birth of their first child, Dennis arrived in fine form, bringing the Yusi tally to four. The sign business continued to flourish as Ramon became involved with the Community Chest, YMCA, and Port Chester Civic Club. Such affiliations aided in his professional networking and further improved his business connections.

During one of these meetings, he met Paul Dean Arnold, founder of Arnold Bakery and contracted quite a bit of work with him. Ramon created the first Brownie face, which was incorporated in all Arnold Bakery advertising. Arnold, his brother Charles, and Ramon collaborated on a display booth for a food show in the Commodore Hotel, which featured a figure of BOB' the Baker presented in a moving exhibit, in which Ramon had him lifting a small loaf of bread into an oven with a shovel-like tool called a "peel." The lighted oven was illuminated in red each time the bread reached its door.

----------

1. "Brick oven baked"

Black and white photo printed in red hue to show how the display might have looked at night under the neon lights.


The "evolution" of BOB in his early years.

In addition to Arnold's own entertaining projects, he recommended Ramon to the Community Chest venture of the War Loan Campaign. On this job, he was commissioned to build a transpositional display at Liberty Square in Port Chester. Through this device, removable billboards were rotated and erected to promote the First War Loan through the Eighth, and Ramon incorporated his own original artwork and ideas into each.

The first display was inspired by Joe Rosenthal's now famous photograph of six American Marines raising the flag over Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Ramon's drawing was among the very earliest artistic representations of the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph, and his billboard was seen by thousands in Port Chester's Main Square shortly after the original first appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The beloved photo has since been cast, drawn, engraved, sculpted and painted by innumerable artists in every size and medium from tiny, mass-produced figurines to the world's largest singular bronze statue, designed by Felix DeWeldon for the United States Marine Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery and dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 11, 1954 in celebration of the 179th anniversary of the US Marine Corps. It cannot now be documented exactly what chronological place Ramon's posters had in the developments surrounding the image; but it was, to be sure, a very early and influential depiction of the image.

While working with Arnold and on the War Loan displays, Ramon purchased a shop on Grove Street with a bank loan. During World War II, he was forced to find other work and took a job as an Emco Porcelain paint sprayer for one dollar and ten cents per hour. Not earning enough to support his family or the house payment he had recently adopted, Ramon loaded and unloaded bread pans for Arnold Bakery at thirty-two dollars a week.


He worked for Emco Porcelain from seven in the morning to five in the evening. In the two short hours between that shift and his arrival at Arnold Bakery at seven, he would return home for a quick sup and shower, then he usually lay down until about six-thirty before heading to Arnold Bakery. There he worked from seven at night until two or three in the morning. Lack of sleep and the strain of such a rigid, harsh schedule wore on him, but Ramon felt obligated to maintain his home and shop at whatever cost to his own fortitude, and somehow he struggled on through the remaining years of the war. When it finally ended in August of 1945, Ramon returned to the sign business full-time. One day, he ran into his friend from high school, Al Ceruzzi, who was eager to partner with Ramon. Al had evolved into a talented letterer, and the two decided that a business relationship would be highly profitable for them both since together they could produce a larger volume of work more quickly than two working independently.

The partnership progressed well and proved tough competition for others in the local signage arena. Al's brother Frank was learning the trade of glass blowing used in the neon industry, and Al and Ramon concluded that with Frank as an associate, they could multiply their opportunities immensely. The three men formed a corporation with a coin flip determining the name of the company, Ceruzzi-Yusi. The corporation quickly developed into one of the top sign shops in Westchester County, which meant hiring more help.

Ramon's design work, for Arnold Bakers diversified to span all the various divisions of the growing baked goods corporation.


Ceruzzi-Yusi was housed in a building owned by Ramon, as well as an addition on the back of the property. Against Jo's advice, Ramon offered the corporation an incredibly low rent for the store and additional shop space with an option to renew for another five years at the same price. The corporation verbally agreed to pay an increased rent rate if the business was profitable, which it proved to be. Ramon approached Al about the possibility of paying a higher rental fee, to which he promptly refused stating that the lease made no such indication. Shocked by Al's betrayal of what Ramon had perceived as an agreement of friendship, Ramon withdrew from the corporation. He offered to sell his share of the business and the boyhood friendship ended.

With the corporation still occupying the store and shop space, Ramon had only two options: fix the cellar or create another addition. He decided to start from scratch with the cellar, which entailed cleaning, heavy lifting, and plumbing in a dark, cramped, and damp area. Finally, he concluded that an addition would be more suitable for his business and began constructing a shop adjacent to the rear of the store. With the help of Ramon's brother-in-law, Dominic Marino, and brother, Armond, cement blocks were stacked to form walls. Pat Sileo and his brother, Lou, completed the roof. Everyone involved in the process was dedicated and hardworking. Within a week, the new structure had a cemented floor, plumbing, wiring, and windows. An office space with glass bricks that let in the sunlight but obstructed plain view was designated for Jo, and she kept the books. A beautiful pin oak was rooted just outside, which provided cool shade in summer and a palette of color in autumn.

The corporation eventually moved out of Ramon's store to purchase its own building. Ramon finally had the store all to himself, but he needed help. Even when sign work was not available, the part-time employees had other odd jobs to perform. Ramon hated to lay off his workers and was forced to keep his prices low in light of the competition. On some occasions, Ramon's kindheartedness resulted in his workers receiving pay in lieu of his own wages. With business on such a tight leash, he began exploring other possibilities for revenue.Ramon started investing in properties through bank loans and selling them for profit. He remained restricted in his finances and devised a plan to break the cycle. With the income from renting three rooms above the store, Ramon had consistently paid the mortgage on his six-room house next door. To buy a twelve-room house on the other side of the store, he divided his home into two three-room units and rented one out for the added income. With this operation, Ramon's bank consented to a five thousand dollar mortgage with only two hundred dollars down. He then bought the twelve-room house, converted it into two six-room units (one for his family) and rented the remaining apartments generating revenue from three tenants. The situation was promising.

In order to access his store space in the rear of the property, Ramon had to share a driveway with the next-door neighbors. Because his large truck needed to pass partly on their side of the drive, the neighbors demanded a fee for the privilege of its use and threatened to erect a fence if he did not accept the fee. Ramon, finding their stipulations extreme, stubbornly contended that a fence would cost them more money, but if they felt it was necessary, they could. They did.

Ramon managed for a while before determining that demolishing his most recent purchase, the twelve-room house, would create room for a driveway and parking lot. He moved his family, with the help of brother-in-law Waldo, to a fourth-floor apartment across the street. Because the building did not contain an elevator, the Yusis relinquished their piano and Jo carried groceries up four flights of stairs.

While lettering a window for a real estate broker in Glenville, CT, the agent there mentioned a six-acre plot of land for sale at four thousand dollars. Ramon drove to examine the property and could not decipher why it was still on the market. Needing one hundred dollars to place a binder on the property, he gave the agent his last ten dollars and promised to return the next day with the remaining balance. The following morning he returned with ninety dollars and they consented to closing the deal in three months. Being strapped for spending money, Ramon turned to a generous and stable relative, Waldo. He proposed that if Waldo loaned him the four thousand dollars, Ramon would supply a five hundred dollar cash bonus and six percent interest on the amount, which was two percent more than the bank. He agreed and Ramon approached his bank about a ninety-day note for the bonus, which they provided based on his credit history. With Waldo's financial support, Ramon purchased the six acres of land.

He worked constantly to clear the wooded property and devise plans for building a house. Ramon began cutting trees with a borrowed chainsaw and leveling yards of dirt by himself. He bought other land with borrowed money and sold it as quickly as possible to maintain loan payments. In 1954, the work was complete and Ramon and Jo moved their family into their new split-level home.


After living in the house for about three years, Ramon remained in debt and decided to sell. He placed the house on the market for an extremely reasonable price of forty-five thousand dollars, but only received offers for five thousand less than that, which changed his mind about selling. Working nights and weekends, Ramon managed to hold onto the property in the hopes that they could sell it later for a higher price.

The business was going along as usual, until the next catastrophe occurred; the shop almost burned to the ground. A doctor flying a small plane over the town saw smoke billowing out of the shop roof and reported it to the airport tower. The authorities notified the Harry Howard Fire Department, which was luckily located just around the corner from the store. Meanwhile, realizing that a fully loaded oil truck had recently been parked just inside the rear entrance, Ramon rushed to the scene with the keys in his pocket. He jumped through the overhead door, into the truck cab, and backed the truck out of the line of fire just in time. In his haste, he failed to pressurize the brakes. Unable to stop, he destroyed the stairs to the house next door and barely missed the tenant himself. The fire was later determined to have ignited from barrels of naphtha-soaked wads of cotton (used to absorb the paint from the screens), which through chemical reactions became increasingly hot to the point of bursting into flame. With the minimal insurance collected and more overtime, Ramon recovered from the incident.

Sometime later, the Village of Port Chester offered Ramon forty thousand dollars for his store buildings and parking lot. They had plans for a municipal parking area, but Ramon felt the property was worth more. The Village later proposed a forty-five thousand dollar deal and he consented.


Waldo had suggested a piece of property in White Plains, and with the profits of another real estate venture, Ramon purchased a building and the surrounding property there for fifty-two thousand dollars. The building's size was ideal, and the location was perfect. Work began pouring in from everywhere within a fifty-mile radius including Universal Signs for AMF Bowling and Anchor Motor Freight for Chevrolet. Ramon had means to produce metal-fabricated, neon and plastic-illuminating signage as well as the more traditional displays. The shop was able to satisfy demands for a vast spectrum of sign types in a variety of sizes and shapes and, thus, was ever diversifying and increasing its clientele at that point.

FOLLOWING THROUGH

DURING A JOB FOR R.B.&W., one of the workers, Joe Ribuffo, was thrown from a ladder by a ceiling crane because the operator could not see him. When he fell, he landed on two open barrels of bolts suffering four fractured ribs, a punctured lung, and multiple contusions on his arms and legs. The work crew immediately transported him to the hospital, where Ramon waited anxiously to hear of his condition. On the way home from the United Hospital, Ramon experienced pain in his chest and arms forcing him to pull over for almost half an hour before driving the two miles to his house. Not feeling well, he made an appointment with his doctor who suggested that he remove himself from the sign business and get a regular job. Ramon put his equipment in storage and worked out of a small shop in a large two-sided garage on Riverdale Avenue. He did not hire anyone and took a more relaxed approach to his work, stopping when he felt it was necessary.

One day, Ramon met Al Ceruzzi randomly and sparked a conversation. It began casually about a variety of subjects including interests in art, but turned grim as Al disclosed his cancer diagnosis. He explained that he would have surgery and felt uncertain about the future. Ramon offered his concern and aid in any way possible, especially since Al was unable to work. When Al's shop needed a letterer to help out, Ramon readily went to work for him and their friendship began to mend.

After about two years, Al passed away leaving a void in Ramon's life. He continued to work for Frank in the shop and sold his extra equipment. He concluded that being employed by someone else was preferable to being the employer because of the high responsibility and stress, which may have contributed to his high blood pressure and angina condition. He remained employed by Frank Ceruzzi until his retirement at age 65.

While lettering for Frank, Ramon was introduced to the Cesare Borgia School of Art and decided to go back to school to study art at age sixty. The school emphasized the Frank Reilly approach and system of painting with a controlled palette and after one year Ramon noticed significant improvement.


Without the sign business claiming most of his focus, he turned his attention to his artwork. He displayed his portraits in a number of shows and galleries in the area, and some of his works were entered and accepted by the Greenwich Art Society, receiving second prize and honorable mention. The Port Chester Art Society selected one of Ramon's paintings for first prize and the Harrison's Women's Art Society deemed one of his pieces as first prize by popular vote. Commissions for portraits kept him quite occupied and constantly in demand.

In addition to spending time painting, Ramon busied himself around the house with odd jobs such as erecting a deck, stone walls, a patio, etc. He even converted his garage to a studio to allow more space for his artwork. At this point, Jo and Ramon decided to sell the house and lessen the amount of work on Ramon. All three children had left home and the place was burdensome for the couple, especially during the winter months.

As soon as the house entered the market, they had an offer. They sold the house for $625,000 and moved into a co-op in Port Chester, which proved more restful and convenient. Toward the end of his life, Ramon and Jo lived there during the summers and purchased a winter home in Greenville, SC.

He survived open-heart surgery in his seventies and maintained his persevering attitude about the great unknown and approached life day by day.

Regarding advice to Dennis about the future, Ramon wrote:

"I would continue as you are. Sometimes the quality of learning might not be great, but the quality of learning is important. Why? Simply this: As time goes on, you develop skill and wisdom. With all this knowledge, you will always be accepted and be in demand. That's my position now and of course it has been so for some time. It's very strange how at first you feel that you are not so much in demand. Then as time goes by, you realize you are in demand. You're considered tops in the business and everyone is ready to seek your knowledge and experience. Some jobs take more time to get ahead. Sometimes the breaks come sooner, but not most of the time. You have to be patient and you must persevere. Just keep your eyes open and every time you see something, pounce on it and don't let go. One very important thought you must always remember; when you start something, always follow through. Don't wait."

Ramon Yusi's enduring legacy of starting something new and following through serves as a reminder of not only the things he accomplished, but also the values he lived by. He passed away on June 27, 1997, having completed over five hundred portraits since age sixty. Not bad for a "sign man."


The following is a portion of Ramon Yusi's portrait portfolio. His skill and insight into human emotion is abundantly clear.



( many artwork photos included here)




EDITED BY*:

Phillip Rhodes, Cathie Rhodes, Vicki Rhodes
& C.F. Alexander, Jr.

* Original autobiography edited by Dennis Yusi

THIS WORK WAS COMPILED AND PUBLISHED for the heirs and family of Ramon Yusi. The editorial team has endeavored to create an inspiring and entertaining record of his remarkable life and incisive works. It is our sincere hope that the book will serve them as a commemorative of the great man's life and an impromptu provenance for the portrait collection as well as Ramon Yusi's historically significant work as a letterer and signage designer. May these few copies become heirlooms to be cherished by the posterity of this great Yusi patriarch for generations to come.


ISBN: 1-591 1 1-022-X

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STORY AUTHOR
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"One very important thought you must always remember–when you start something, always follow through. Don't wait."

Yusi Family