Ramon Oliu
The Faces of Alzheimer's
Where Memories Are Kept Alive...
Written by Edward Oliu

My father, Ramon Oliu, was born in Cantonigros, Catalunya, SPAIN in 1923. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona.  He married my mother, Isabel Herberg Oliu, who was also born in SPAIN (Barcelona), as were my sister Elisabeth, the oldest, and brother Jorge.

He went to the University of Tulsa, where he received his Masters of Science in Petroleum Engineering and after returning to Spain, informed my mother that somehow, they needed to emigrate to the U.S.  He accepted a position at the newly established university, University of Santander, Bucaramanga, Columbia, as the Dean of the Petroleum Engineering Department.
In 1967, he was offered the Construction Project Manager’s position for what was then one of the largest oil refineries in Europe.  The entire family moved to Frankfurt, Germany where we lived for almost a year and a half.  The last of the family, Paul, was born there in 1968.

After moving back to New Jersey in 1969, he went back to work for FMC Corp. in Princeton.  In 1971, at age 48, he came to the conclusion that he needed to start some sort of physical exercise for his own well being.  Starting off by jogging in place in the basement of our home, to running around the house, then running at the high school track and finally running out in the streets, he slowly but surely became a long distance runner.  His first race was a 5 mile run at the Freehold Raceway and in 1976, he entered the inaugural New York City Marathon.  In 1977, once again, he was on the move as FMC Corp. offered him the position of Director of Technology for a newly acquired company, Foret, headquartered in his native city, Barcelona. 

Moving back to Barcelona with the two youngest, he returned each year to run the New York City Marathon and brought a “team” of Catalan runners he befriended.  This team placed third one year, surprising many in the running community.  He became friendly with Fred Lebow of the New York Road Runners Club and got involved in many marathon related events.  He also certified a number of marathon venues for distance compliance.

His biggest contribution, perhaps, to the running world came as founder of the Barcelona Marathon.  Started in 1977, the race is now an international event and draws between three and four thousand runners annually.

He retired from FMC Corp. in 1990 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994.  My mother and youngest brother Paul, who moved back from Ohio, cared for him until April, 1999 when we were forced to put him in The Arcadia Nursing Home in Hamilton, NJ where he presently resides.

It was here that my brother, Ramon, was born.  After his teaching assignment was up, in 1957, he was offered a position with Foster Wheeler in New York City and his dream of coming to the U.S. was realized, subject of course, to them obtaining citizenship.

I was born in Elizabeth, NJ shortly after their arrival.  Michael and John followed and we continued to live in New Jersey while he changed jobs, first to FMC Corp. and then to  Mobil Oil.  While working in the City, he obtained a Masters of Science in Chemical Engineering from City College of New York (CCNY).
This is the Carrer Major in the village of Cantonigros.  I am not sure of the date it was taken, but the first door on the right is either Cal Corder, the name of the house where my dad was born.  Or it is Cala Munda, the house my Dad bought for his sisters while we were living in Spain.
Loosely translated, "Blasphemy Dishonors You."  This is located on the wall of a house in Cantonigros. 
This is the second edition cover of my Dad's book, republished by the Banc de Sabadell.  I remember the days he was writing it.... he would sit on the edge of his bed, writing in red notebooks.  If I recall correctly, the name, translated "The Essence of Running", was created by my brother John.  
After his eleven year battle with Alzheimer's disease, my Dad went peacefully, surrounded by those who loved him, on April 3rd, 2005.  While his passing saddens us, we are happy that he is now at peace.  Even after the illness had taken the best of him, he will still be missed.  I can picture it now - there is Dad, running down a beautiful country road, with a smile on his face, and the leg's and mind to enjoy his passion all over again.

For those of you who have sent messages of support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Paul Marc Oliu