So ,who was Cruz Fernandez?
He was the father of your Aunt Linda Christa Fernandez Hoff, my wife. He was born on July 8, 1915 in Carlsbad (L) Baptism picture) and passed away on August 19, 1965 at the age of 50. Had he lived until Chris and I were married on October 23, 1971, Cruz would have been my father-in-law.
Cruz, as a 16 or 17 year teenager. Our son, your cousin Erik, is named Erik Cruz Hoff for his Grandfather. Right below—two more pictures of Cruz.
Cruz, at left in the back row, (date of picture unknown) had nine brothers and sisters. Sitting in the center in the front row is Grandfather Hipolito Fernandez and Grandmother Maria Zuniga Fernandez. Others:
Back row, left of Cruz, brother Orlando, brother Hipolito Jr., also known as “Pearl” and “Opo”, brother Claude, AKA “Chito” Claude began work at Carlsbad Caverns in 1947. He offered me a permanent caverns guide job by phone in 1971. Guess who I met and married at the caverns when I got there in 1971? Starts with a “C.”
Middle row (L to R) sisters Avelina, Celia, Mary, Alicia
Front row (L to R) sisters Celina, Grandparents, see above, sister Consuelo
Cruz graduated from Carlsbad High School in 1932, the first Hispanic-American to do so. He was a gifted varsity athlete in high school. High school team picture directly above.
He attended the University of New Mexico from 1932-1934, majoring in Spanish. He lettered in football ( see picture below--Cruz, # 74, played football with Ralph Bowyer, #99, a famous local player; the Cavemen Football Stadium is today named for Ralph Bowyer, who was also Cruz’s friend) Cruz was a member of UNM’s Border Lands Conference 1934 - 1935 Championship team. College team picture directly below.
Cruz also lettered in University of New Mexico “Lobos” basketball, 1934 – 1935 and participated in track.
 I have researched several newspaper articles of the period. And though my printed copies are not available to me at this moment, I recall one such article in which the high school basketball coach described Cruz as “the best player on the team.”
 !932 picture—Captain Cruz is second from the right in front row. An additional note on the caption reads “Season high spot, Artesia 6, Carlsbad 6 Thanksgiving. Ted, Cruz’s great grandson Brandon Mendoza is the starting quarterback for the Carlsbad Cavemen high school football team and the team has a 6-3 record. Last Friday they beat Hobbs, a team that the Cavemen haven’t beaten in 8 years at Hobbs.
Athletic talent has run deep in the Fernandez family through the years right up to the present, obviously inherited mainly from Cruz. It is reflected in his children and their children and the children of those children.
A granddaughter was on a state championship team four or five years and last year, 2009, her daughter (Cruz’s great granddaughter was on the Cavegirl Softball state championship team, as if that isn’t enough, she is currently playing for the high school volleyball team.
Another grandson played basketball for the Cavemen high school team and I know that I must be inadvertently forgetting some Fernandez athletes.
One female Fernandez athlete will whack me upside the head if I brag about her because she is so darn modest. We competitively shot basketball “free throws” on our first date to see who could shoot the most out of 25—and she won, but enough said. Maybe some day I can fill you in on the sport’s ability of this mystery lady?
Cruz married Viviana Martin in January 1936 and had five daughters: Helen (wife of Mario Salinas), Angie (wife of Ben Mendoza), Lorina (wife of John Gomez), Rose Ann, and Christina (wife of Bob Hoff).
He later married Polly Pritchard and had one son, Alan (husband of Misti Fernandez).
Positions (Official and “Unofficial”) Held at one Time or Another
Prison guard at New Mexico Penitentiary in Santa Fe, NM, 1945 - 1946.
Chief Deputy of Eddy County Sheriff’s Office during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (10 years). He was the first Hispanic-American to work in the Sheriff’s office. He graduated from the FBI Academy in Washington, D.C. in September 1949. He was considered one of the outstanding law enforcement officers of New Mexico at the time.
Date unknown—Cruz standing by the Eddy County Sheriff car.
In January 1944, Cruz and a NM State Policemen chased burglars on a high speed pursuit, heading south toward the caverns, with the non-driver firing out the window at the burglars tires. Reaching the caverns entrance about twenty miles from town, the criminals broke through the “chain” gate heading up Walnut Canyon toward the caverns elevator building. When the chase stopped, the burglars separated, going in opposite directions. Each officer chased one. When it was over, the NM State Policemen had killed the man he pursued; Cruz caught his subject and took him into custody.
(R) Cruz with another law enforcement officer, unidentified.
(Above) Cruz in Washington D.C. while attending the F.B.I. training academy.
With other law enforcement officers.(second from left in in back row). Date unknown.
Cruz served as Chief Deputy of Eddy County Sheriff’s Office during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (10 years). After working in law enforcement, Cruz became a field representative for the local Motor Vehicle Department.
These were his “official” positions, but it was in his “unofficial” positions, including humanitarian and political efforts that he made other important contributions, and established his legacy.
He was a well-known political leader in the Hispanic community and was a staunch Democrat, wielding considerable power among Hispanic Democrats. He was on the advisory staff of U.S. Senators Dennis Chavez and Joseph Montoya for a time and was an honorary member of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.
Advocate of Hispanic People
“El Patron”Cruz was an advocate of the Hispanic people. If you had a problem, you went to Cruz for help. He assisted a multitude of people in the Carlsbad community with a multitude of concerns: immigrations issues (such as working on sponsorship papers); public-assistance problems, judicial and legal concerns, interpreting for people who couldn’t speak English, working with the Red Cross in contacting military personnel stationed overseas in certain emergencies. He never charged or accepted payment for any of his help. In one incident, a mother of five died and her husband left for another woman, leaving his children alone. The grandmother took over the children and Cruz helped the woman to find aid in her now desperate situation.
He encouraged others to become involved and participate in all aspects of civic and community affairs. He also urged others to get as much education as possible.
He was known as “El Patron” because of his active leadership, and his zestful and active participation in Democratic politics and unselfish commitment to helping others. He also helped younger Hispanics interested in politics to learn about local and state political systems.
In a 1966 Senate Joint Memorial No. 13 (signed by then New Mexico Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bruce King), in which Cruz was referred to as “Eddy County’s leading citizen and friend,” the Memorial pointed out that during his lifetime Cruz did much to further communications and understanding between Hispanic-Americans and other citizens of his community.
Cruz encouraged Hispanic people to vote and showed people how to seek help in the legal system.
Other InterestsHe was a member of the 1st draft board established in Eddy Co., a member of the Elk’s (Santa Fe Lodge), member of San Jose Catholic Church, and a member of The Knights of Columbus (an organization of Catholic men dedicated to charity, unity, fraternity, patriotism, and family life). He also was a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (among other goals and changes, since the middle 1950s, LULAC has fought for voting rights and full access to the political process, and equal educational opportunity for Hispanic children).
He is honored as being one the men who pioneered golf in Carlsbad, and is one of the honorees in the Memorial Golf Tournament held every summer.
In 1966, a city park was dedicated and named in Cruz’s honor at the corner of Chavez and Pompa streets. At the dedication, U.S. Senator Joseph Montoya spoke.
Cruz lived a humanitarian life as an advocate for the “under dog”. His legacy consisted of several parts:
· He instilled pride in the Hispanic community for Hispanic heritage.
· He believed that “discrimination” against other groups or individuals should not be practiced and “discrimination” from other groups or individuals should not be accepted.
Cruz also believed that through the political process, laws could be made that would stop discrimination and benefit Hispanic-Americans.
· He showed that “untiring service to fellow people in need” was the “right” thing to do, and in his personal case, always without accepting payment or any kind.
· He believed in the value of working in and supporting people-helping organizations like LULAC and the Knights of Columbus etc.
· He believed in and practiced using political agencies and representatives as methods for helping people in need.
· He believed in the necessity and power of education and encouraged people to get as much education as possible.
A measure of Cruz Fernandez’s contributions in life is that, even today, some forty plus years after he passed away, people still tell stories about him. They still express their gratitude for him. They still recount his legacy, the legacy of a man who always put others first, always without hesitation, and always without the expectation of a return favor of any kind.
He was a loving father who instilled moral values and discipline in his children. He taught his children to respect all people, especially the elderly. His grandchildren knew him as “Big Daddy”.
He had a keen sense of humor, strong in his faith and was an excellent cook and dancer.
A fun-loving person, he always had friends with him. He had many close friends that he loved, and in turn, was loved by many people.
Another measure of Cruz’s zest for life and motivation for “doing for others” and “helping out anyone or anyplace that he could” is that he accomplished all of this in his allotted 50 years of life. Several thousand people turned out for his funeral, people of different races, political parties, and different living locales in New Mexico.
The world needs more people like Cruz today.
Cruz on left; Henry Nunez on right
Above--from a couple years ago—all time basketball lettermen for the University of New Mexico Lobos—see Cruz’s name in the third column.
Teddy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 575-200-5982 if you have any questions. Good luck with paper. Love, Uncle Bob