Josephine Fernandez, 92, of Traverse City passed away February 16, 2013 at the Grand Traverse Pavilions.
Josephine was born March 28, 1920, in Ziesing, West Virginia, to Antonio and America (Campa) Fernandez. Her parents arrived in the United States, from Spain, in 1913. From Ellis Island, they went to West Virginia, later settling in Burgettstown, PA. Her father worked in the West Virginia coal mines and then at Climax Molybdenum in Langeloth, PA. Of sixteen births to Antonio and America, ten children survived early childhood diseases (Lola, Virginia, Connie, Dora, Josephine, Mary, Joseph, Olivia, Isabel and Herman).
Josephine only attended grade school, but never lost her desire to read and learn. She worked on the family farm and helped care for the other children. She was able to read and write in English and translated for other Spanish neighbors. One such couple introduced her to their nephew, Louis Fernandez, when he visited from Fredonia, Kansas.
On February 22, 1944, Josephine and Louis married. Louis spent seven years in the US Army, serving in Germany in World War II. When his tour of duty ended, they settled in Fredonia, with his mother, Encarnacion, sister (Angelina) and brother (Joseph), following the death of his father, Jesus. In 1958, Josephine and Louis and three of their children moved to Taylor, Michigan. After the death of her youngest sibling, Herman, at age 18 from polio, she wanted to be near her family who had relocated from Pennsylvania to Detroit. Their fourth child was born in 1960.
Josephine worked full and part time jobs at the same time and still managed to prepare meals at St. Cyril of Jerusalem convent on weekends. In 1966, she was able to leave industrial work and become a bank teller for Security Bank and Trust, a job she loved and took great pride in. She retired in 1980. She and Louis divided their time between Florida and Traverse City after his retirement from the General Motors Willow Run plant until he died in 1996.
Josephine devoted herself to giving to others. She was an exceptionally loving mother, grandmother, aunt and friend. She was a caring neighbor on Weddel Street for many years and the first in line to vote in every election. Extended family dinners always featured her extraordinary pies. Her small home was a gathering place for conversation, advice and good home cooking.
Josephine remained in Traverse City after her husband's death. In recent years, she lived at the Pavilions. She received outstanding care there by some very dedicated people, particularly Robin Godfrey. She was no longer able to travel, but she remained a constant loving presence in all our lives.
Her sister, Isabel, visited her frequently, providing priceless attention and love despite distance and weather. Other relatives, including caring nieces and nephews, as well as friends, drove many miles to regularly spend time with her. The love she had so freely given was shown to her, in return, every day.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her son, William, who is survived by Juliana in Traverse City. Other survivors include her sister, Isabel Bouzas (Ramiro) of Redford, MI, and her daughters, Connie Fernandez (Richard Heady) of Albuquerque, NM, Ramona Fernandez (Donald Barry) of Ann Arbor, and Olivia Garner (Mark Garner) of Traverse City. Josephine was very proud of her grandchildren, Louis Barry, Claire Garner, Jesse Fernandez and Mary Garner, who felt her love every day of their lives.
Josephine's family will receive friends on Saturday March 30 from 10 am until the time of her Memorial Service, 11 am, at the Harry J. Will Funeral Home, 37000 Six Mile Rd. (east of Newburgh and I-275) in Livonia.
Memorial donations are appreciated to:
Hospice of Michigan
400 Mack Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201www.hom.org