Former Providence city solicitor, state attorney general candidate and dedicated Brown alum Joseph Fernandez ’85 died Dec. 18 following a brief illness. Fernandez, who was 46, was a University trustee and president of the Brown Alumni Association at the time of his death.
“His selfless service and uplifting spirit inspired us all,” President Ruth Simmons said in a statement.
Raised in Pennsylvania as the son of Filipino immigrants, Fernandez graduated from Brown with a degree in American Civilization. Described as “a consummate Brunonian” in Simmons’ statement, he was a Brown Alumni Schools Committees interviewer, a member of the Brown Corporation Committee on Minority Affairs and a director of the Brown Club of Rhode Island.
Fernandez also chaired the Multicultural Alumni Committee of the Brown Alumni Association Board of Governors and in 2006 received the Brown Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award, a tribute to “distinguished, continuing volunteer service to Brown,” according to the statement.
Within the Providence community, Fernandez served as a trustee of Trinity Repertory Company and a director of the Community College of Rhode Island Foundation, the University release said.
After graduating from Brown, Fernandez attended Harvard Law School, where he was a classmate of President Barack Obama. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Fernandez served as the co-chair for Obama’s Rhode Island campaign.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn today of the passing of my friend and colleague Joe Fernandez,” Obama wrote in a statement. “From our time together in law school to his work as a dedicated public servant in Providence, I knew Joe as someone who had lived the American dream and was committed to protecting it for his fellow citizens.”
Following a stint in private legal practice, Fernandez served as city solicitor from 2003 to 2009, when he resigned to run as a Democratic candidate for attorney general. He garnered roughly 27 percent of the vote in a three-way primary contest this September.
Fernandez is survived by his wife, Emily Maranjian ’86, and their two daughters.