Raul J. Fernandes, Jr. was born on June 19, 1917 in Gloucester, Massachusetts to Raul and Laura Fernandes. He and his family moved to Pt. Loma, this beautiful community in San Diego, when he was a young boy. Many people knew him as Harold Fernandes. He graduated from Point Loma High School in 1935. His father Raul Sr. was a skipper and part owner of tuna fishing boats, as a young man he asked his father to take him on a fishing trip with him and his father agreed. They had a good trip and filled the boat off the coast of South America but when they were headed home they ran into a fierce storm that tossed the boat around like a tooth pick. Scared to death and violently sea sick, Raul got on his knees and prayed to God to please get them home safe and he would never go out on the open seas again. They made it home safe!
In his early 20's Raul owned a Richfield gas station on the corner of Rosecrans and Addison and used to work on the vehicles for the Navy. When World War II broke out the Navy gave him a one year deferment so he could continue to work on their vehicles, all the time thinking he would certainly be joining the Navy at the end of the deferment. At the end of the year Raul went to the Navy recruiter and told him the story about the fishing trip and his promise to God. The recruiter laughed and sent him to go see the Army Air Corp recruiter and he joined the Army Air Corp. He was trained to be the engineer and top turret gunner in B-17's. He flew 54 missions over Europe during WWII, more than twice as many missions as any one person was supposed to, 25 missions was the supposed limit. His plane was one of the first five planes to spearhead D-Day. Raul earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the highest honors given any military person. There is a plaque on the Mount Soledad War Memorial honoring his heroic efforts. He finished his military career in Biloxi, Mississippi teaching hydraulics. While he was in Biloxi he used to go into New Orleans to dance, this is where he met the love of his life, Wanda. He was discharged from the Army Air Corp they got married, moved back to Point Loma and began to raise a family and build a business.
Raul and Wanda bought and old Army surplus truck and turned it into a rolling grocery store called Raul's Grocery on Wheels. The business thrived and with some financial help from his father and money they were able to save they purchased the lot and built the building located at 4161 Voltaire Street. Raul's Market was in business! He was the president of the Cabrillo Club in 1955, he sang in St. Agnes church choir for more years than many people live, and he was appointed by Bishop Chavez to be one of the first Eucharistic ministers in this city.
In 1982 his father Raul Sr. passed away. Raul and his brother, Bob, decided to sell the business. Bob thought Raul was going to retire but he wasn't done yet. In November of 1983 Raul, Wanda and their youngest son Steven opened the Vieux Carre' Restaurant on 5th Ave in the Gaslamp district. They worked hard together and had a lot of fun but after four years they decided to sell the restaurant and move on. Raul and Wanda finally got to retire!
Raul and Wanda did a lot of traveling and devoted much of their time to the church. Raul served as the president of the courier for the Legion of Mary and Wanda served as the president of the Catholic Daughters for the state of California. In September of 2003 Wanda passed away and Raul was never the same. Outside of a trip to Ireland and Portugal in 2006 with sons Richard and Steven and their wives and a few trips to local casino's most of his time was spent in front of the television and listening to old songs he loved. One month after his 93rd birthday in 2010 he began to fall and not be able to help himself up, so Raul and Steven had a heart to heart talk about him moving into an assisted living facility. Raul agreed and a few days later he moved into Bay View Senior across the street in the old convent. Three days later Steven received a call that Raul was deteriorating rapidly and they thought he was going to pass away very soon. His family rushed him to the emergency room. Raul made it through an operation with flying colors at age 93, the Portuguese are a very resilient people!
He recovered, moved back into Bay View Senior where he thrived for the past 2 ½ years. On Monday, November 26 at 4:04 in the afternoon he passed away.
Finally the family would like to give a special thanks to some extraordinary people.
1) St. Agnes Church for making sure my dad received Holy Communion every Sunday. This was very important to him as was this church and their faith to both my mom and my dad.
2)Shay Wickline her mother Sharon and the entire staff of Bay View Senior for taking such good care of him the past 2 ½ years.
3)His nurses Kendra, Jamie and Letti and the rest of the staff of Apreva Hospice that looked over him and gave him such great comfort.
4)His neighbor the Smith family for their kindness.
5)His neighbor Bob and Madeline Corey. I told you earlier that before my dad moved into Bay View Senior he had several falls and could not help himself up off the floor. It was Bob Corey he called and without hesitation Bob would run across the street and help my father to his feet. Bob and Madeline always kept a watchful eye on him.
Rosary will be Thursday, December 6, 2012, at 10 a.m. at St. Agnes with Funeral Mass to follow.
Burial will be at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery after Mass.
In Lieu memorials to propagation of the faith organization or any Catholic Charity.