September 5, 1944 – May 15, 2018
Nicholas Hernandez…Vietnam Veteran, Labor Leader, Educator, Community Activist, Founder, Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.
Nicholas was born in Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated to San Diego at 7; he lived here for 66 years. Nick’s parents were Sixto Reyes Hernandez and Rosa Torres and was also preceded in death by his brother Manuel, sisters, Catalina, Rachael and Candelaria. He is survived by his wife of fifty-five years, Connie, four children and their spouses, Nicholas, Clarissa Castillo (Raul), Carina Hernandez-Carrillo (Mark), Concepcion (Lonnie), nine grandchildren, Raul, Mommies, Brenda, Athena, Matthew, Buddy, Moses, Linda Rose, and Cass, one great-grandson, Jayden, brothers, Paul, Joe, and Frank, sisters, Celia, Salome, Jessie, Carmen and Lola and numerous nieces and nephews. His family was always his first love and priority but managed to serve in many professional capacities, community activism, and founding a local charity.
He would recall as a child riding horses and plowing the fields with his father on a ranch in Mexico. It is from his parents that at an early age he inherited his unwavering work ethic, commitment to family and community, and faith in God. When he came to the United States as a seven year old, he spoke very little English and was frustrated with his Kindergarten teacher who spoke no Spanish. Seven year-old Nick was not impressed. Even with that educational start he went on to earn a Bachelors Degree in History, a Teaching Credential from San Diego State University and studied at the George Meany Labor Studies Institute in Maryland.
He began his professional career as a Finish Carpenter and rose to serve as Business Agent and Financial Secretary of Carpenter’s Local 2020. Nick also served as a Trustee on the Carpenter’s Pension and Health and Welfare Trust and the Southern California Lumberman’s Pension and Health and Welfare Trust.
He worked for the national AFL-CIO, a proud friend to Cesar Chavez especially during his boycotts and marches throughout California. Cesar often called on Nick and local labor organizations to assist in these efforts. During his time in San Diego, Cesar, his most trusted confidants, and his dogs Boycott and Huelga, would spend the night with the Hernandez family.
Vietnam and Uncle Sam called Nicolas to serve in 1967; he was a combat infantryman, a medic and a machine gunner in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam near Pleiku earning many service medals including two purple hearts. He was a patriot and would always speak of the importance of honoring veterans.
Upon returning home, he worked in the trade and then joined the leadership of the union and continued to serve as a labor leader for over 20 years. During that time he created many union job opportunities for the communities of color and women…always ready to help young men and women and always ready to lead or join a picket line for a just cause. Additionally, he coached little league, his daughter’s softball teams and never missed a football, baseball, softball, or basketball game for his children and grandchildren.
Nicolas supported many local elected officials through campaigning, walking precincts, and mobilizing voter registration drives; recruiting and organizing community members. He served on United Way of San Diego’s Latino Future Scan, the Mayor’s Latino Advisory Committee, and founded the local chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. He worked with the San Diego and Imperial Valley Labor Council, San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, member of the VFW, Don Diego Post, worked for AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, and was the Director of MAAC Project’s first YouthBuild program.
After working in the trades and labor, and various professional organizations, Nick earned a teaching credential and began working for the Sweetwater High School District teaching History, Social Studies, and Special Education classes and then went on to teach Adult Education. His career ended full circle as he taught a Building Maintenance Class, specializing in Carpentry, Plumbing, and Electrical trades. He especially enjoyed teaching the many veterans who participated in his classes. He never retired by choice, he loved his job and helping many of the veterans in his class. His war stories are legendary and his students provided a perfect audience. His career concluded full circle as he began working as a carpenter and ended teaching a profession he mastered. His students call him, Maestro.
Nick volunteered with many organizations including, the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, coordinated campaigns for the Southwest Voter and Registration Project, and was a founding board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.
He received awards for his outstanding work for the community in Labor from: The Barrio Station, Rayos del Sol Award, and for his service as a Board founder/member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.
Nick and Connie lost a son to leukemia in 1976 and their grief turned to community action as founding members of the local Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego. During the construction of the house, because of his labor associations, Nick approached organized labor unions and they provided most of the labor free of cost. Nick served as President of the Board of Directors of the Charity and continued to help up until last week when his students presented Super Hero themed jewelry boxes to the current residents. The San Diego Ronald McDonald House was the 19th house to open in the United States; today there are over 300 houses in every continent, all over the world. Nick considered the founding of the RMH, a “Home Away From Home” and, “The House that Love Built,” as his most proud achievement…this movement helped heal the loss of his son, brought hope and comfort to thousands of families and provided a sense of pride in honoring the memory of his son, Matthew.
Through his many careers, Nicolas served his community as an ardent soldier in labor, politics, an advocate for education and veteran rights, was passionate about social justice, working with community groups promoting opportunities for all. He will be remembered for his unparalleled work ethic his devotion to family. He was a gentleman, an historian, community activist, labor leader, educator, war hero, and head of a family of achievers guided and influenced by his example. Most important he was a good son, brother, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, Nino, compadre, friend, hero, role model, and an outstanding human being. Nick touched thousands of lives through his work and caring spirit and he will live on through his family and legacy of good work.
Rosary at 11:00 a.m., Funeral Mass at 11:30 a.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1770 Kearney Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113. Military internment, Miramar National Cemetery at 2:p.m.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
1770 Kearney Avenue
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
1770 Kearney Avenue
2:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Miramar National Cemetery
5795 Nobel Drive
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May 24, 2018
Nick i first learned about you through my brother joe,you were classmates and friends at san diego high class of 1963,later i met you,through labor and community issues,you have always remain constant in your beliefs and what was important.You and connie had an old school partnership and love,that is enduring and an example for all of us.If there is a carpenter's union in heaven,i know your in it and organizing the guys.Rest in peace.
May 23, 2018
He was always a gentleman who loved his wife....family....Coummity........a role model for all Mexican. American men. Connie and family in my thoughts and prayers❤.......Nicole. Murray. Ramirez
May 22, 2018
Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing "Nick" as long as some of the others that have posted, the 3+ years that I had the honor of working with him were truly a joy. Nick was smart, a talented teacher and had a great sense of humor. I truly admired his deep love of family and his dedication to Children's Hospital and other heartfelt causes.
Whenever I visited Nick's class, he was always hard at work instructing students in key aspects of construction. Nick may have been a "Jack Of All Trades" but also a "Master" of many. Nick was always looking for innovative ways to teach his subject matter and give students a "real life" experience that they could carry into the job field.
Nick also had a great sense of humor. As it turns out, some of Nick's relatives were also friends and acquaintances of mine (who might just be reading this right now!) but I promise, Ojeda family, we never talked about you, lol! Ok, maybe I did but Nick, as was always the case, never had a sideways word to say about anyone.
I'm really going to miss Nick. The Greek philosopher Diogenes walked the streets of ancient Athens, candle in hand, searching for "an honest man". In Nick he would have found just that and much more. Rest in Peace, Nick. Chula Vista Adult School will never forget you.
May 22, 2018
As a teacher at Chula Vista Adult School and in order to complete ASB duties, I often called on Nick when I was planning for an event or when I needed repairs in my classroom. Nick always found the time to help or either he’d send a couple of his best students over to help out, and, always in a timely manner. He was a consummate professional.
Once, I had the idea of making Halloween at our site more like a carnival and when I met to brainstorm with Nick, he had everything I needed right there. He had been working on creating a carnival for a nearby elementary school. He was planning to deliver it to the elementary school about the time I arrived but offered to delay delivery so I could use the carnival items in our program at CVA. He then planned to rush the items over to the elementary school just in time for their program. I decided not to put him through that, but I think this story shows what kind of person he was. Always willing to go out of his way to help!
Speaking to Nick, you knew he was one of the good guys. I remember the twinkle in his eye when he spoke about his family and how he reminded me of… hey, wait a minute! Nick has a lot of similarities to the big guy. Rest in peace St. Nick. You will be sorely missed by your friends at CVAS.
My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Nick Hernandez.
May 21, 2018
I have such great memories of Mr. Hernandez in how he and the entire family treated me as if I were family. Some of my greatest childhood memories are with the Hernandez family. I remember I could just walk in the house without having to knock on the front door as if I were family. I remember I had a terrible tooth ache on a weekend and needed a dentist right away (ended up needing a root canal) and Mr. Hernandez through his connections got me into a dentist and they even put me on a payment plan. I remember the amazingly beautiful birthday parties at the house and how I couldn't wait to go over their house for the love, warmth, and of course the food. May you rest in eternal peace in bosom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ now and forever, Amen.
May 19, 2018
Often times we do not realize the magnitude of our blessings. I am honored to have called Nick Hernandez, brother in law, friend, Uncle to my children and both Nick and Bebe, God parents to my daughter Crystal. Nick... it is hard to comprehend that I will not see you again until the Lord calls, but I know that you would want all of us to use our wisdom to keep moving forward...to be our highest selves. This is what you did...always. The magnitude of the blessing of you Nick Hernandez, is a beautiful gift in my life...in all our lives. You are one of the greatest men I have ever known. Rest peacefully with all of our angels Nick. Peace be with your beautiful wife BeBe and with your beautiful amazing children. With gratitude... I love you.
May 19, 2018
A LOST LOVE
We have all gained & unfortunately lost loves Some here to give us long lasting memories
Others not even a glimpse of the future
One in the same both loved as equals
Not easy to part with never ever forgotten
No one day easier than the next
Or as memorable as the passed
A deep hurt that a long stretch of time can Soothe but can never fullily heal
You will be deeply missed tio
I LOVE YOU
May 18, 2018
Nick, I have memories of you in so many places. The Union hall, the McDonald House and community meeting. What I remember most is your kindness, your support, your love for family and your love for Connie. As a college student while working at Logan I met your mom . I always knew where your love for family came from. You are and always will be a very special person.
May 17, 2018
...known Nick for most of my entire adult life... Rembering his constant work and support for community issues, campaigns y todas de nuestras causas .... My heartfelt prayers and condolence s to Connie and family at this difficult time ... God bless you
.. y Que Viva Nick Hernandez
May 17, 2018
Nick and Connie have been always ready to support our communities. I have fond memories of Nick's sense of humor and passion for our young chicanos
May 17, 2018
My Dear Bebe I just want to try to help comfort you in your loss of the love ❤️ of your life. Words nor deeds can comfort the soul in times of great despair, only time and a belief in a greater supreme being and that we will all be reunited somehow and somewhere may help. Love you both and your Familia intensely
Thomas (Tommy Ray) Sapien
May 17, 2018
I want to share my condolences with the Hernandez family in this time of loss. May God continue to comfort you as you go through this difficult time. Primo Tomas
May 17, 2018
Best mustache this side of the Mississippi hands down
May 17, 2018
I remember looking at pictures of him in Vietnam with bandages on his head, way after he came home. Mama Rosa had not known he was injured because he didn't want her to worry about him. She was so angry he had not told her!