February 12, 1927 ~ April 19, 2020
Born in: Roseville, California
Resided in: Orangevale, California
Rufus Hernandez, Jr., born February 12, 1927 Roseville, CA. He was a World War II veteran of the Merchant Marines. He served as a mariner seaman aboard the William N. Byers Liberty Ship during 1945 and the SS Monroe Victory Ship in 1945 and 1946. His service in the Merchant Marines ended in 1946. He joined the Air Force in 1948 and served in the 7th Air Division. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant, running the photography department. His service in the Air Force ended in 1952.
He was a restaurateur, bank executive, active Republican, and father of six children. A longtime resident of Fremont, CA, later retiring to Fresno, CA. He was involved in veteran organizations such as the Merchant Marines, the Air Force, and the American Legion. He was involved in bringing the Veteran’s Home to Fresno. He participated for many years in the Fresno Veteran’s Day Parade, served as Grand Marshall in 2014, a true patriot who loved his country. In 2019 he was honored once again in the 100th Anniversary of the Veteran’s Day Parade, he along with all former living Grand Marshall’s, he kept telling everyone, “I can’t believe they are all here to see me, amazing”.
Rufus was a devoted loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and avid storyteller. He felt each and every day above ground was a good day. He loved meeting new people and could find out their life’s story within minutes and had an uncanny ability to remember everyone he met. Speaking in front of crowds was something he loved to do, and always had something to say. His favorite things included, being with his family for any occasion, to work in his garden, fishing, photography, his long daily walks(his proclaimed secret to longevity), and volunteer at the Fresno VA especially his part in organizing the Fresno Veteran’s Day Parade. His optimism in all of us, to do and be anything, is a rare and true inspirational gift, one that we not only thank him for but will cherish with every memory.
He is survived by his children, daughter Catherine Lorraine (Lorie) Hernandez of Moralzazal, Spain, daughter Cheryl Ann (Cherie) Walter, son-in-law Marty Walter of Orangevale, CA, daughter Teresa Lee (Terrie) Smith, son-in-law Doug Smith of Wilmington, NC, daughter Sandra Lynne (Sandi) Bettencourt, son-in-law Jeff Bettencourt of Fremont, CA, son Richard Michael Hernandez, daughter-in-law Sol Fernandez of Villanova, PA, daughter Elizabeth Marie (Lizzie) Ahrens of Wilmington, NC; grandchildren, Lia Tucker & spouse Brannon Tucker, Brian Walter & spouse Kim Walter, Craig Smith, Renee Bettencourt-Hernandez & spouse Jake Hartman, Alex Smith & spouse Addison Smith, Kevin Smith, Lawson Ahrens, Jenna Bettencourt, Eryn Smith, Hailey Ahrens, Natalie Ahrens, Rico Hernandez, Bryce Ahrens, Mario Hernandez, and Eva Luna Hernandez; great-grandchildren, Adeline Walter (11 months) and Brinley Tucker (26 days); baby sister, Rosalie Rose (Hernandez), brother-in-law Tony Rose of Ross, CA and his dear friend, Betty Smith of Oakland, CA. He is preceded in death by his father, Rufus Hernandez, Sr., his mother, Sarah (Sally) Hernandez (Morales), younger brothers, Robert Hernandez, and Michael Hernandez.
Services will be held for Rufus at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name can be made to the Fresno Veteran’s Association Voluntary Service, or to the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.
Fresno Veteran’s Association Voluntary Service: For Cash and non-cash contributions, please contact the VACCHS Voluntary Service Office at 559-228-5364, or V21FREVAVSDONATE@va.gov
Mail checks payable to VAVS “VA Voluntary Service” 2615 E. Clinton Avenue M/S 135 Fresno, CA 93703.
SS Jeremiah O’Brien: Donations can be made online, at www.ssjeremiahobrien.org/pages/donate