Joseph Anthony Fernandez, M. D. F.A.C.S., of Enterprise passed away of a long illness on March 30, 2021 in the arms of his wife and surrounded by family.
Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 2, 2021 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church with Father Zachary Greenwell officiating. The family will receive friends at the church beginning at 12:00 p.m. and continue until time of service. Face masks and social distancing will be required to attend these events.
A Man’s life is bounded by two dates – his birth and his death. The dash between contain the myriad dates and details of a life lived. If viewed as the covers of a book, the number of chapters and pages will vary, with some having few pages, and others many chapters. Dr. Fernandez’ life contained many pages and many chapters, touching thousands of lives through his 79 years on earth.
Dr. Fernandez was born an American citizen abroad to Jose Maria Fernandez and Antonia Fernandez, in El Ferrol, Spain on February 7, 1942, but the family was separated by World War II and was not reunited until 1951 when he and his mother arrived in New York City. Growing up on Staten Island, he graduated from St. Peters High School for Boys and attended for one year the City College of New York where he played in the first NCAA Soccer Semi-Finals in 1958. Accepting a four-year Naval ROTC Scholarship, he travelled to the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque where he graduated and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1964.
Dr. Fernandez was designated Naval Aviator in 1966 after attending flight school and initially flew the UH-34 “Sea Horse” helicopter and the transitioned to the CH-46 “Sea Knight.” During this time, he sered aboard the U.S.S. Okinawa in the Caribbean Sea and flew humanitarian rescue missions in the aftermath of Hurricane Inez in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Returning from the Caribbean, he served in the Republic of Vietnam from April 1967 – May 1968 during which time he proudly served as a rotary wing aviator in the HMM-361 “Flying Tigers” and HMM-362 “Archie’s Angels” helicopter squadrons, aboard the U.S.S. Okinawa once again as a member of the Afloat Landing Forces at Khe Sahn and many other named operations. On the ground, he served with the 3rd Bn, 5th Marines Regiment as the Air Liaison Officer during the Tet Offensive.
On return from Vietnam he transitioned to jet aircraft and became a jet flight instructor a NAS Meridian, Mississippi. On leaving the Marine Corps in 1970, he flew Huey helicopters for the Mississippi National Guard as he attended medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson. On graduation he returned to active military duty as a flight surgeon for the United States Navy before completing a residency in urology at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington State. Retiring from the Navy in 1986 he became the Chief of Urology at the Asheville Veterans Administration Medical Center in North Carolina.
Dr. Fernandez returned to active military service because of Desert Storm, initially serving as the acting commander of Lyster Army Hospital before deploying to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as the Chief of Urology with the 13th Evacuation Hospital. Returning to Lyster, he completed his service and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and began private practice in Enterprise and Ozark, Alabama.
He retired from medical practice in 2007 but remained a member of the Coffee and Dale County Medical Associations. Among his many achievements and awards are his designations as a Naval Aviator, an Army Aviator and a Naval Flight Surgeon; his earning of the Presidential Unit Citation, 23 Air Medals, Combat Action Ribbon and Purple Heart from his service with Marines in Vietnam, multiple commendation and achievement medals and the Meritorious Service Medal from his service in the Army and Navy. He served as a Clinical Professor of Urology for Duke University in North Carolina and has published articles in several medical journals as well as becoming a Board-Certified Urologist and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Locally, he was a large, if anonymous benefactor for several charities and as a member of St. John’s Parish in Enterprise, attained the rank of 4th Degree in the Knights of Columbus. He was also the physician assisting thousands of residents of the Wiregrass. He was known to all as a kind and generous man. Was a devoted husband and father and cherished by his family.
He is survived by his wife, Ruby Franklin Fernandez (formerly of Jay, FL); his two sons Joseph Fernandez (Kimberlee) of Enterprise, AL and John Fernandez of Asheville, NC. He has five granddaughters, Skyler Henley (Christian), Raven Brock (Kyle), Jolee-Ann, Isabella, and Elizabeth Fernandez and two great-grandsons, Leo Henley and Bear Brock.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to Father Zachary Greenwell, Dr. Rick Harrelson and Covenant Hospice, Dr. Walter Lawrence, Center Home Care, and Sorrells Funeral Home for their care and support.
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