Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Fernando-1931-2021
An Appreciation-God's Humble Servant
Editor’s Note: Rudy and Lita Fernando were inseperable and an active LW couple, well-known to many here. The following is an appreciation from his longtime friend, Rhonda Sandberg.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, ‘Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.’” —John 1:47, KJV A present-day Nathanael passed from our midst on Aug. 31, 2021 at 2:49 p.m. Rudy Fernando was a Nathanael in every way.
Walt Trent, a fellow resident in Leisure World and friend of Rudy and myself, is the person who told me that he saw Rudy as a Nathanael, and he is exactly right.
To be without guile is to be void of insidious cunning, deception and duplicity. Rudy’s character in word and in deed was graced with honor, pure motives, and an unceasing love for God and His Word. He truly was completely without guile.
I met Rudy and his wonderful wife, Lita, at First Christian Church of Leisure World. Rudy greeted me with his beautiful, friendly smile and gave me a name tag, which he had made for every church member.
I noticed during the service that he and his wife served Communion, so I assumed he was a leader or elder in the church by his actions and service. (Always being thoughtful of things that are needed in the church, Rudy recently purchased new member books for those who wanted to join the church.) When I began playing piano at First Christian, Rudy would approach me every Sunday after the service as he and Lita were cleaning up the Communion elements to tell me how much he enjoyed and appreciated my playing— he was ever the encourager. At our potlucks, Rudy was always present, helping to set up tables and to clean up afterward. His service to the church was continual and joyful at every turn.
My late friend Anita Ragole told me to approach Lita and Rudy about joining my new gospel choir, the Good News Singers, so I did.
Their membership in my choir became one of the biggest blessings of my life. Rudy served as vice president and often led the group in prayer and devotions. Lita offered to serve our audiences complete meals at every concert as a ministry.
This was a HUGE undertaking since we usually fed between 300 and 500 people each time! Lita solicited help from Melinda Nicolet and some of her relatives and friends, and Rudy worked right alongside Lita before and after the concerts, clearing tables, doing dishes, cleaning up, and then packing up leftover food for shut-ins and Leisure World security personnel.
After we cleaned up everything, Rudy always helped me to my car with all of my paraphernalia, which was usually a lot! Prior to the concerts, Rudy always asked me for the seating chart so he could make name tags for each seat so that the choir members would know where to sit. There is no doubt that the ministry of Lita and Rudy Fernando to the Good News Singers and to the attendees of our concerts was key to the success of the Good News Singers and a blessing to all who were present, particularly to me.
As if this ministry to the Good News Singers was not enough, Rudy and Lita volunteered to expand their ministry to the Leisure World Chorale, performing the same amazing tasks that they did for the Good News Singers, serving full meals to the concert-goers and choir members.
So, eight times each year, this precious couple “fed the 5,000” ( John 6:10-11 KJV) with grace, joy and dignity.
Melinda Nicolet assisted each time, not only helping Lita with the concerts, but also serving beautiful potlucks for the Good News Singers’ rehearsals once every month! Even though Melinda and Lita headed up these marathon events, Rudy was always present and helping in every way.
I cannot mention Rudy without Lita because these two worked and served together as one. I called them “salt and pepper shakers” because they were a perfectly matched set and just looked so cute together. And the salt and pepper analogy suits them very well because they “seasoned” people’s lives with joy and grace and help wherever they went.
Rudy and Lita and I often ate with other friends at Madera’s Steak House for a time of fellowship or a celebration of birthdays and anniversaries. At every gathering, Rudy always led us in prayer and had a devotional Word to share.
He also loved the cheesecake there, so he enjoyed every bite of it with vigor!
When the pandemic began and so many were sheltered inside, Rudy and Lita became what I called “The Food Angels,” delivering food every day to many people in need.
Although I was not in need, they still faithfully came to my home in Rossmoor every day, not only to bring Lita’s amazing home cooking, but also to share a Word of Scripture that Rudy had prepared.
Because of these two, I was fed physically and Spiritually every day for over a year! Amazing!
In 2020, Rudy and Lita celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, so we held a lovely renewal of vows ceremony at First Christian. I even got to be their flower girl! We played a recording of “O Promise Me,” and Rudy was overcome with emotion, looking at his beautiful bride with love and tenderness. It was a lovely, heartfelt and touching ceremony because of who Rudy and Lita are as people. To have been a part of this service was an honor I will never forget.
Lita loved to go to the Seal Beach pier with Rudy every evening to enjoy the sunset, to walk on the beach and the pier. Lita would feed the seagulls, and Rudy enjoyed watching her intermingling with the birds and watching the fishermen.
This was a daily regimen for these two, and the seagulls looked forward to their arrival if they got there before sundown. After sundown was when the birds went to sleep, and Lita was always disappointed if she missed them, giving the food she brought to the fish instead.
When the church had to close down inside services for awhile, it was Rudy who I observed helping the pastor measure the outside area for a covering, for chairs, etc. His willingness to help in any way possible was always evident, and he served joyfully and faithfully with quiet humility, no matter the task.
Rudy loved his library of books.
An avid reader, Rudy was always sharing with anyone who would listen the latest books or articles or Scriptures he had read. The consistent desire to share his service, his joyful heart, his contributions, his knowledge and his help were all ever-present aspects of the character and demeanor of Rudy Fernando.
After one of my visits to Los Alamitos and a lunch with Rudy and Lita at Madera’s, they offered to drive me home to Lake Elsinore.
While they were here, I played a song on my keyboard that Rudy and Lita had introduced to me: “I Cast All My Cares Upon You,” by Kelly Willard. As I played, they sang, and I can still hear their lovely voices and their sincere hearts as they sang.
I loved that song so much that I arranged it for our Good News Singers. And Lita told me that Rudy made it the theme song for his devotions with her every morning. A few months ago, Lita asked me to record it so she could dance the hula to it in church. So now, whenever I hear or play or sing that song, it is Rudy and Lita who come to mind.
I thank God for the last time I saw Rudy and Lita for lunch at Madera’s, which was only about a month and a half ago.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely as always, and I still have a wonderful vision of the two of them getting into their car in the parking lot and waving to me, Lita looking beautiful and vibrant as always, and Rudy smiling and looking about 45 years old instead of 90, his youthful look being one of the many blessed gifts God gave him.
When I heard from Lita that Rudy was in the hospital ICU, I was praying for him, and God compelled me to go to my keyboard and play “I Cast All My Cares...” for Rudy, hoping and believing that he could somehow hear it in his Spirit. The words are very appropriate for his battle: I cast all my cares upon You I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet And any time I don’t know what to do I will cast all my cares upon You.
Rudy Fernando left a legacy for all of us of humility, joy in the Lord, consistent faith in God, a sincere and winning smile, and a beautiful example of true servanthood.
Beyond all of this, though, Rudy left us all with another legacy. He fought with every fiber of his being for his life in those last few weeks. While in the hospital, Rudy did everything in his power to try to beat his illness.
According to the Bible, which says in Ephesians 6:13 “having done all, to stand,” he chose to use all medical means to help him to fight the virus, which was not an easy decision for him.
But out of love for his family, Rudy became a warrior and fought his final battle valiantly. His bravery reminds me of an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by Dylan Thomas, which he wrote as his father fought his final battle. I utilized it at my own father’s memorial service because he fought his final battle with valour as well. These words speak of the hero in battle that Rudy Fernando displayed in his final days here on Earth: Do not go gentle into that good night... But rage, rage against the dying of the light...
Rudy raged like the good Christian soldier he is as he fought hard against the attack on his body. And then, when God began to call him Home, Rudy rested and trusted in the Lord as he gently transitioned in peace to His Heavenly abode.
What a great example for his wife, his children and his grandchildren. They can be so proud of him for “fighting the good fight of faith” ( 1 Timothy 6:12 KJV) in his last days.
Dearest Rudy, I can already see you setting up your bookcases in your new Heavenly abode, putting your many beloved books in their places on the shelves.
And I can also see you looking over the edge of Heaven as one among the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV), looking out for your wonderful Lita and your beautiful family.
I also have a feeling you will continue to sing “I Cast All My Cares” with Lita, surrounding her with the presence of your faithful Spiritual service to her and your family each morning, reminding her of the devotions that meant so much to both of you.
From myself, Rudy, I thank you for your beautiful, smiling, encouraging Spirit and your perfect example of servanthood. Jesus said, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27 KJV). Rudy, you were “chief ” among all of us who knew and loved you.
Thank you for being our present-day Nathanael. Your humbleness and meekness will last forever in my memory of you.
Rodolfo "Rudy" Fernando
Lita and Rudy Fernando