MESA, Fernando Rodriguez, a native of Tampa, formerly of 210 E. Ross Ave., Tampa, passed away on June 12, 2012, at the age of 98. He was pre- deceased by his father and mother, Eladia Mesa and Estella Inesa Rodriguez; and his brothers, Harold R. Mesa and Joseph R. Mesa. The Mesa family made Tampa home since 1909. His maternal grandfather, Frank Rodriguez, was a pioneer leaf tobacco dealer and his father, Eladio, was well known at the firm Humphrey Motors Inc. Fernando was retired from the Civil Service and Base Exchange at MacDill Field after being employed there for over 32 years. A World War II veteran, he was a graduate from Tampa Business College where he received his Bachelors degree in Interior Decorating. In 1921, he organized the "Lets Be Happy Club" in Tampa to give the youth of Ybor a safe place to meet. He was active in the community including work with the Tampa Jaycees, The Federal Theatre 1936, Pan American Commission, and the Tampa Little Theatre 1947. He was also a member of the American Legion, the Holy Name Society of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and usher at the Sacred Heart Church, as well as a charter member of the Henry B. Plant Museum, Ybor Museum, and board member of the Tampa Historical Society. Fernando was an honorary lifetime member of El Circulo Cubano de Tampa (the Cuban Club) and an honorary general in the Krewe of Mambi and paraded in the Gasparilla Parades until he was 91 years old. He was chairman for five years for the Jaycees Christmas display on Bayshore Boulevard and the first year the group initiated Christmas Card Lane. An eclectic collector of many items, especially antiques, he also decorated his home for over 50 years and held Christmas parties for many of Tampa's elite. The combination of his museum-quality collections and his beautiful festive decorations brought local fame to the Mesa historic home. Fernando was recently honored by the dedication of a park, the Fernando R. Mesa Morgan Street Park, by Mayor Pam Iorio in 2005 for his many years of community service and by the Cuban Club naming of the grand ballroom at the Cuban Club after him in 2009. He was also involved with and honored by the Ybor City Museum State Park with the D.B. Morgan award in 2007, Ybor City Hall of Fame 2005, Member of Honor award Circulo Cubano de Tampa 2004, the Diocese of St. Petersburg's St. Jude award in 2003, Tampa Historical Society in 2000. Over the years Fernando helped support many memorials including the Tony Pizzo statue, the Ybor Square Immigrants wall, the Jose Marti statue & the Raphael Ybor statue to name a few. He also travelled extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Tokyo and Hong Kong. A Memorial Mass for the repose of his soul will be offered on Monday, 18 June 2012 at 4:00 pm at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Father Sean O'Brien, O.F.M officiating. The friends will be received from 7pm to 9pm, with a wake service to be held at 8pm, Sunday, June 17, 2012, at Gonzalez Funeral Home, North Dale Mabry. In lieu of flowers, friends may make a memorial gift to charities of their choice.
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Published in TBO.com from June 16 to June 17, 2012