1929 - 2022
Gertrudis Fernandez (92) of Queens, NY, passed away on February 16th, 2022 after a long and courageous fight with Alzheimer’s.
Gertrudis immigrated to the United States from Santiago, Dominican Republic in the early 1960’s during the Kennedy era. From the moment Gertrudis set foot on US soil, she fell in love with New York. As a single mom, she vowed that her children would never be a burden to the United States government. She was grateful to have fulfilled her wish.
An extraordinary seamstress, Gertrudis began her professional journey at Pola Sportswear, Inc. in Brooklyn, New York, later working as a Sample Maker for Calvin Klein Industries for many years. Working with pattern makers, she would sew and assemble the apparel that would be designed by her colleagues. She both loved and excelled at her work, so much so that Frank, a pattern maker she frequently worked with in their shared work space, would always say “Gertrude! It couldn’t be better” after inspecting her completed work.
After retiring from Calvin Klein, she transitioned to working at Liz Claiborne, Inc. While working there, she received a Liz Claiborne Certificate for completing her Conversation/Writing class in 1989, finally retiring in 1994. She was a member of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) for over 30 years. She made many young brides very happy when creating their wedding gowns amongst the countless she made.
Mama, as most called her, was the mother of all things! She enjoyed anything and everything. Despite adversity and challenges, Mama always saw the glass half full. She loved the entire universe. She loved life, her children (her 9 diamonds as she always said), her grandchildren, and her friends.
She deeply cared for the environment and tried to do her best to save the planet. For more than 40 years she had been telling us that plastic items were toxic. Consequently, we would not dare serve her food or give her anything plastic. Mama did not like cutting trees. She was also a true animal lover. Her passion for nature shone through in her yard, filled with gorgeous flowering plants and various places where birds could be watered and fed.
Gertrudis was a prolific poet, eventually publishing a collection of her works that was later translated into English. She wrote one to the City of New York, which she shared with the mayor of New York at the time. On Jan. 2, 2007 she received a letter from Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York “thanking her for her creative work inspired by the Big Apple”. Yes, that was our Mama the Poet amongst many things.
Gertrudis was an avid reader, having many subscriptions to New York’s newspapers. She loved geography and used her world globe to teach her grandchildren the very subject. She also kept her National Geographic subscription for over 25 years. As a deeply religious person, she also read all of the books written by Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.
A devout Catholic, Gertrudis was a parishioner of the Shrine Church of Saint Gerard Majella, Queens, New York. She was also a lector of the Holy Scripture during the church services, a member of the church choir, and a frequent carpool driver for other local churchgoers.
On October 6, 1995 she went to the Aqueduct Race Track to see His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit in the U.S. Gertrudis was also a Queensborough Chorus member from the early 1980 – 2000 as well as an Alto chorister and a Choir sponsor.
In March 2000, Gertrudis was blessed with the opportunity to go on a church pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Jerusalem. During that pilgrimage Gertrudis was baptized in the Jordan River, got to float on the Dead Sea, and ride on a camel. That was a ceremonial journey for her.
The much beloved mother of 9 children, Gertrudis was sadly predeceased by her oldest child Carmen Nilsa Rossi 73 years old who passed on 6/24/2021, her son-in-law Victor Melendez (1947-2014), her grandsons Rossano Rossi (1968-1972) and Brandon Rossi (1970-1990). She is survived by her 8 children Margie Melendez, Litchfield, CT, Clara Burgos (Carlos) Queens, NY, Juan E. Fernandez (Elba) Richmond, VA, Raysa Ramirez (Edwin) Mastic, NY, Angel Fernandez (Amy) Litchfield, CT, Inez Yates, Chesapeake, VA, Jack Minaya (Tina) Tucson, AZ, Helen Taveras (Andrew) Carle Place, NY. She is also survived by 11 grandsons and 10 granddaughters, 7 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild and several nieces and nephews.
Monday, February 21
2:00 - 4:30 PM & 7:00 - 9:30 PM
New Hyde Park Funeral Home
506 Lakeville Road, New Hyde Park, NY
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL
Tuesday, February 22
St. Gerard Majella RC Church
188-16 91st Avenue, Hollis, NY
Pinelawn Memorial Park
2030 Wellwood Avenue, Farmingdale, NY