January 20, 2016

Ovidio “Papa” Fernandez

Roxbury Township,  Mr. Ovidio Fernandez of Succasunna, NJ , 91, passed away on Wednesday, January 20th at the Merry Heart Nursing Home in Succasunna.

A resident of Succasunna for the past 27 years, Ovidio was born March 19, 1924 in Ciego de Avila, Cuba to Angel Fernandez and Maria Melia. He was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Felicia (Sotolongo) Fernandez, in 2013.

Until shortly after the 1959 Fidel Castro revolution and Communist indoctrination of Cuba, Ovidio owned and operated Laboratorio Clinico Irigoyen in Ciego de Avila (taken by the Castro regime) and served as President of the local Lion’s Club. After the revolution, Ovidio and his wife, fearing for their future and their child’s future under the brutal Castro regime, decided as did many Cuban families, to send their daughter, Mercy, to a refugee camp in America as part of the Pedro Pan Operation (mass exodus of over 14,000 unaccompanied children leaving Cuba), to meet up later. In the meantime, Ovidio worked for the Red Cross and then immigrated to the USA in 1962, rejoining their daughter. Like so many refugees arriving in Miami they came with nothing but the clothes on their back. Ovidio and his family were fortunate to find haven in the Dover, NJ area thanks to their sponsorship by St. John’s Episcopal Church of Dover in 1963. The parish provided financial assistance, food & clothing and helped find shelter & employment for Ovidio at the All Souls Hospital which later became the Mount Kemble Division of Morristown Memorial Hospital. He worked there for 35 years as a lab technician and Phlebotomist until his retirement.

Ovidio lived in Morris County, NJ for the last 52 years, residing in Dover, Kenvil and Morristown, before moving to Succasunna in 1988. He proudly became a US Citizen in 1971.

Ovidio was predeceased by his brother Angel Fernandez Jr., and his sister Gloria Lamas. He is survived by his sisters Zenaida Martinez and Hortensia Dorticos, both living in Miami Fla.   He is also survived by his daughter Mercy and husband Robert Davenport of Succasunna, his grandchildren Michael Davenport of Ocean, NJ and Mary Jane & husband Thomas Parr of Succasunna, and 3 great grandchildren Thomas (TJ), Trevor and Tucker Parr.

Called affectionately by all as “Papa”, Ovidio will be remembered for his dedicated hard working character, his friendly smile and his ability to make his patients in the hospital feel at ease during testing procedures. His passions were eating Cuban cuisine, watching Yankee baseball games, food shopping at Shop Rite, visiting relatives in Miami and tinkering around his yard.

Private services will be conducted by the Davis and Hepplewhite Funeral Home, 96 Main Street, Succasunna, NJ with interment at the First Presbyterian Cemetery in Succasunna.

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