J. Fernando Cuevas, Class of 1951

October 17, 2003
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #226 (Have you submitted yours?)The middle of the nine children of Pedro and Maria Cuevas, Fernando was educated at Barbara Webster School and went to SPUHS with the Class of 1951. His siblings were Margarita (’37), Lucy (’41), Edward (’44), Henry (’45), Clara (’49), Gilbert (’53), Raymond (’54) and Alexander (’58).High school days were filled with activities, including World Friendship Club, CHA (serving as president), football, and managing the basketball team. His buddies at SPUHS were Mary Brixey, Frank Chavez, Lucy Cole, Roger Jensen, Don Marshall, Ricky Nelson, Rudy Osuna, Buddy Riley, and Herb Ward. His favorite teachers were George Atmore, Randall Bryden, Mildred Flickinger, Ellen Bailard, Helen Hardison, Bernard Keefe, and especially Jack Totheroh, who kept him focused in his pursuit of goals.Following graduation, Fernando joined the U.S. Army for two years as a medical corpsman and then graduated from Ventura Junior College and transferred to San Diego State. He graduated from San Diego in 1958 with a BA in Biology and then received his secondary credential.Fernando taught biology, math and chemistry at Victor Valley High in Victorville for four years, and returned to San Diego for graduate work. He worked as a teaching assistant in radiation genetics and completed his Master’s in physiology. Fernando then taught at Reedley College for 13 years.He received National Science Foundation fellowships to Occidental, the University of Colorado, and graduate programs at Cal State Long Beach, Claremont College, UCLA and Colorado State. During a sabbatical from teaching, he completed course work at UC Berkeley and Delta Junior College for a certificate in scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and he worked with district architects to include lab facilities to incorporate electron microscopes for use in the instruction of biology majors. He wrote and published laboratory manuals in General Microbiology, Human Physiology and Techniques of Scanning Electron Microscopy.
In the 1960s he was selected as a naturalist for the National Audubon Society for summer programs in Wyoming. Fernando and his family spent the summer at 7,500 feet in the Tetons, a great experience for the whole family.In 1978 Fernando accepted a position as director of Math, Science and Engineering at the new Oxnard Community College. During this period he was selected by the National Science Foundation to a panel in Washington, D.C., whose function it was to examine and recommend applications from college science departments for equipment grants. He then accepted a position as assistant superintendent in the Rio District in Oxnard. He retired from education in 1991, and worked for the Ventura County Human Services Division for six years before retirement.Fernando married Josie Castro (’52) and they have four children: Maria, Laura, Ron and Rose Anna. They built their retirement home in Chico, California, and have traveled extensively in the U.S., Latin America, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. Fernando is now busying himself as a tax professional for H & R Block in Chico.

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