A Tribute to Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez, My Grandfather

8 Oct

This tribute was made by my grandfather’s medical students at the University Jose Matias Delgado, where he was the Dean of Medicine. I have translated what it says for those of you who do not speak spanish.

I know that the majority of what you see are ‘things,’ earthly achievements, which may be seen as the things that he did, and yet all of this did not come about by my grandfather asking the question, “what do I want to do with my life?” but by asking “who do I want to be?” and what he did came as a result of that answer. The day that my grandfather finally fell ill, after suffering from lung cancer for 4 yrs. was the last day that he went to work. He was 87 yrs. old. May we see the virtues of a man whose faith and the choices that he made because of that faith, empower us all to choose a life that reflects the graces and divine gifts that we have been given. We have a responsibility to enhance life and live it as fully as we can, using everything that comes to us as an opportunity to be more, and as we do that, we help each other, just like seeing my grandfather’s life does for me and many other people.

A legacy
A story of one life
Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez

In 1936 he graduates from the high school Garcia Flamenco with a focus on Letters and Science

In 1943 he meets Miss Elsie Castillo Funes with whom he will share the rest of his life

“Towards the end of 1943 I met Miss Elsie Castillo who was destined to become the keeper of my heart, hopes and dreams” Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez

In 1944 he becomes the editor of the student magazine “El Salvador in Medicine” and he is named president of the student society “Emilio Alvarez.”

He graduated with a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of El Salvador in 1946

He recieved a gold medal and an honorary badge for his doctoral thesis

His first prescription

On May 4th 1947 he marries Miss Elsie Castillo Funes

He becomes a father for the 1st time in 1948

From 1949 to 1951 he earned his Masters degree in Internal Medicine from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York

From 1951 to 1952 he was named Head Emergency Services at the Rosales Hospital in El Salvador

He became a member of the commitee for scientific activities for the School of Medicine in El Salvador, a situation that permitted him to participate together with Drs. Luis Edmundo Vasquez and Max Bloch in founding The Society for Internal Medicine in El Salvador.

From 1958 to 1981 he was Chief of Staff for Internal Medicine at the Rosales Hospital in El Salvador and was chosen to Head the Department of Medicine at the University of El Salvador

In 1968 he was named Director of Medical Education in charge of the organization of the Department of Medicine, in the School of Medicine of the University of El Salvador, which earned him a scholarship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study organization at for the Departments of Medicine at Tulane, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford Universities

He became President of the Society of Internal Medicine for the 1st time in the years 1958-1962. In August 1968, as President he is named Coordinator of the Committe ‘Ad Hoc’ for the study of medical education problems in the country.

In June 1985 the 3rd wing of the Women’s Health Center is named “Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez”

From 1981 to 1991 he was Chief of the Department of Medicine for the Rosales Hospital in El Salvador during which time he was the driving force behind the development residency of Internal Medicine.

In December 1994 the National Hospital Zacamil is renamed “Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez”

In April 1995 he is named Distinguished Doctor by the Legislative Office of the Rebublic of El Salvador, this is comparable to a medal of honor given by the President of the United States.

In 1995 he accepts the post of Dean of the School of Medicine at the University Jose Matias Delgado

In December 1996 he is named Doctor of the Year by an the Ad Hoc committe Gustavo A. Lopez Foundation

On May 25th 1999 he was awarded the Silver Plaque by the National Order ‘Jose Matias Delgado’

Silver Wedding Anniversary

Ex Chiefs of Residency of Internal Medicine

Family Fernandez Castillo Funes

Man, companion, brother, husband, father, master, teacher, friend, chief, but before all a great human being. These are a few words that describe the man who was our Dean, the excellent teacher, Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez, to whom we owe an enormous legacy, and unforgettable mark as time passes, a footprint of firm and successful steps worthy of example.

Thank you teacher for everything. You will always be in our hearts.


6 Responses to “A Tribute to Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez, My Grandfather”

  1. Cindy October 9, 2006 at 2:31 am #

    As I read this wonderful tribute I could feel the love and respect they have for this man. Time will never change their feelings and he will never be forgotten! cindy

  2. bernadette October 10, 2006 at 12:41 am #

    oh elsie,

    haven’t checked in with my friends inside the computer much in the last month. i’m so sorry for your loss. and for your grandmother’s loss. your account is so touching and beautiful that it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like. . .it also gives me hope. . .that relationships can be strong and true and enduring and that they can bear such sweet fruit. . .my prayers are with you and your family.

  3. YOUR UNCLE JUAN JOSE October 17, 2006 at 5:06 pm #



  4. Mike K. June 20, 2007 at 11:38 pm #

    A latecomer to this video tribute I was still very moved. Thank you for the translation, Elsie. If you are named after your grandmother I would say your grandfather was honored twice.

  5. Humberto Mejia March 20, 2008 at 4:23 am #

    Ms. Elsie Fernandez: Dr. Fernandez was my teacher and mentor,I was Sadden by his death;he was a great teacher,clinician,guide,researcher and a honest and ethical practitioner with superior intellect.It was a priviledge to have been his pupil and to have worked under him.

  6. Humberto Mejia May 5, 2009 at 5:20 am #

    Ms.Elsie:Today I was reading the tribute to Dr. Fernandez and his work as dean and his practice,and the way he worked.I remember one morning in 1966 he call me to his office to comment about my work,and he said at one point in the meeting:”Mejia you have to take care of your patients even if you don’t feel well and do the best”.What a great person he was.

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