Juan Ezekiel Medina Hernandez, aka "Zeke", 96, passed away peacefully in his home in Grand Terrace, California on June 26, 2020, to join his loving wife of 76 years, Dorothy Hernandez, who previously passed on April 9, 2017, as did his son, Donald Randy Hernandez, who passed on May 25, 2004. Zeke is survived by his children, Patricia Hernandez of Grand Terrace, Jeanne Skeen of San Diego, Timothy John Hernandez of Riverside, Steven Hernandez of San Diego, and Alan Hernandez of San Antonio, Texas, 10 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, 1 great, great granddaughter, his older brother, Raymond Hernandez, his younger sisters, Cruz Moreno and Virginia Quevedo, as well as many nieces and nephews who fondly regarded their "Uncle Zeke" as an important influence in their lives. During his lifetime he became a father figure to his granddaughter, Robyn Gracey Guzman, his niece, Linda Thompson, and his nephews, Ron Baker and Roger Baker. Zeke was born April 10, 1924 in Riverside, California to Jose Hernandez and Julia Lopez. He attended Irving Elementary School, University Junior High and Polytechnic High School. He began his working career in the fields picking cotton, grapes, and oranges, and subsequently constructed water tanks for the military at the Food Machinery Company, and served his country honorably during World War II in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman in Japan and the Philippines. After the war, Zeke spent 20 years working as a milkman and semi-truck driver for the Carnation Company. When Carnation closed, he found employment with the State of California Department of Corrections where he began work as a Correctional Officer, then a Correctional Investigator where his duties involved investigation and apprehension of escapees from state prison, assaults, homicides, possession of narcotics, not only of inmates, but also personnel which he presented to the local district attorney. He retired in 1985. Zeke developed a lifetime love affair with golf when he caddied at the Victoria Country Club in 1939 and 1940, where at the time, he wasn't allowed to play due to his ethnicity. (Dorothy, his future wife, also worked at the club as a hat check girl.) Fast forward almost 80 years later, and his son and wife, are now members. Zeke once birdied five holes in a row at Fairmont Park, where he played his best golf, and met many lifetime friends. Zeke was aware during his last months that he had lived a long and satisfying life. He would tell his caregiver, Stephanie Valenzuela, detailed stories about his wife, children, grandchildren, relatives, and, of course, golf. When she said: "I'm leaving now," he would always reply: "How Sweet It Is!" There will be no Celebration of Life for Zeke due to Covid-19. However, if anyone has any memories (stories) to share, kindly send them to: Patti Hernandez, 22436 Franklin Street, Grand Terrace, CA 92313, (858) 779-1516
Published in The Press-Enterprise on Jul. 1, 2020.