I was saddened to wake up this morning to find out that Joe Fernandez had passed away yesterday after a short illness.
I first met Joe a decade or so ago in connection with the Harvard Law School Association of Rhode Island. Although Joe and I were not close, we did keep in contact over the years.
Joe struck me as a genuine person who cared about government service not for some greater glory but for the service itself. He just was a nice guy in a political world where that is a rare commodity.
My condolences go out to Joe’s wife and twin 8-year old daughters.
Here is an excerpt from the announcement in the The Providence Journal:
Joseph M. Fernandez, the 46-year-old former Providence city solicitor who ran an unsuccessful campaign for attorney general this year, died Saturday at Miriam Hospital.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Fernandez grew up in Pennsylvania, a son of Filipino immigrants, and went to Brown University, where he met his wife-to-be and worked nights at a campus eatery to help pay the tuition.
From there he went to Harvard Law School, where he was the classmate of Barack Obama. He would come to co-chair Obama’s presidential campaign in Rhode Island.
Fernandez liked to talk about being in private practice when he got the call from David Cicilline asking him to serve as Providence’s city solicitor. He took the job in January 2003, resigning in September 2009 to make his first run for political office.
He waged an anti-corruption campaign, talking about how he developed the legal strategies to do away with a “pay-to-play” culture in the wake of Operation Plunder Dome and revoke the pensions of Providence officials and police officers accused of corruption.
But he faced two other Democrats in the September primary, and ended up with 26 percent of the vote.
Fernandez was active in the Filipino community, serving as president of Harvard’s Asian American Law Students Association and heading the Rhode Island Bar Association’s Committee on Involvement of Minorities….
His survivors include his wife, Emily Maranjian, who was his classmate at Harvard as well as Brown, and twin daughters, who were eight years old at the time of the campaign.