Emilia Schunior Ramírez, teacher, lay historian, and school administrator, was born on October 20, 1902, in Sam Fordyce, Texas, to George J. and Angela (Vela) Schunior. The family moved from Mission to Edinburg when the Mission schools began to segregate Mexican-American children. She graduated from Edinburg High School in 1919 and attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos for two years. She married Rafael R. Ramírez (with whom she had three children) in 1921 and then attended Edinburg Junior College and the University of Texas. She received a B.A. from the College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville. She subsequently taught at many places, including Roma, Rio Grande City, Edinburg, and La Joya. She served as principal at North Grammar School at Rio Grande City. She taught at Manuel Guerra School in Roma in 1935 and then became principal of the Roma schools. She was offered the position of superintendent but did not accept. In 1949–50 she was visiting teacher at La Joya School and in 1950–51 at Pharr. She ran and lost the race against her cousin's husband, Arnulfo Martínez, for the office of county school superintendent in Starr in 1950. She was a Democrat.
During the summers of 1941, 1948, and 1950, Mrs. Ramírez attended the University of Texas, where she obtained a master's degree in education. She attended UT with her son Alfonso. Her thesis, "`Wetback' Children in South Texas," was a study of the 1,200 children of undocumented workers in the schools in Edinburg, La Joya, and other Rio Grande valley communities (see MEXICAN AMERICANS AND REPATRIATION, and OPERATION WETBACK). George I. Sánchez and Herschel T. Manuel supervised the thesis. In 1954 Frank Dugan and Ohland Morton asked her to contribute a chapter to a Hidalgo County history, but they did not complete the project. In 1971 her son Alfonso published her contribution to the project, Ranch Life in Hidalgo County after 1850, a rare account of the life of Mexican women in the late nineteenth century. The work is based on oral history with twelve women and three men and includes information on early settlers, vegetation, holidays and festivities, and folk beliefs. In 1952 Emilia Ramírez became an assistant professor of Spanish at Pan American College in Edinburg. In search of intellectual growth she toured Europe in 1954, attended the National University of Mexico in 1955, and spent much of her summer of 1958 in Spain. She also studied at the University of Chicago. In February 1960 she represented the Pan American Round Table of Edinburg at the meeting of the Inter-American Alliance in Guatemala City. She was also a member of the Texas State Teachers Association and the National Education Association. She was Catholic. In June 1960 she took a leave of absence from Pan American so she could travel to Mexico, but then grew sick with pancreatic cancer; she died at Manuel Ramírez Memorial Hospital on October 16, 1960. A dormitory at Pan American University was named after her. She is buried at Valley Memorial Gardens in Edinburg.
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