Fernando H. Gomez, a Ridgewood resident for over 49 years and a teacher at Ridgewood High School for 28 years, passed away Friday afternoon at the Valley Hospital. The son of Luis and Jacinta Gomez, Fern was born in Montpelier Vermont and grew up in Dover NJ where he was a quarterback on the Dover High School football team. He was the first person in his family to go to college and graduated from Montclair University with an undergraduate degree and was a two-year letterman on the University football team. He later received his masters from Delaware University. Fern was a longtime teacher and department head of the foreign language department at Ridgewood High School as well as a Varsity football coach and leader of the Ridgewood Ski Club. He was a pioneer and innovator in all that he did. His accomplishments at Ridgewood High School include introducing Chinese language instruction to the High School in the 1970’s, the first to do that in any NJ high school. His innovation with the football team included unique special teams play that accounted for many victories. A lifelong outdoorsman he started the Rod and Gun club at Ridgewood High School and introduced students to fly fishing and skeet and trap shooting at the nearby Thunder Mountain range taking an entire school bus full of eager young men and woman there weekly after school. Fern took over the Ridgewood Ski Club in the early 1970’s when his students asked him to even though he had never skied before. Trips to Hunter Mountain ski area saw four busloads of students gather weekend mornings at 7am from the High School parking lot for a day of skiing. Fern grew the club to an independent organization chartering entire planes for trips of over 300 skiers to the Italian alps yearly throughout the 1970’s. Fern was the first to present a written proposal for the Ridgewood Education Foundation in 1988 and the foundation was formally created in 1989. After his retirement from Ridgewood High School in 1990 he had a career in commercial real estate and development. Fernando is predeceased by his father Luis, mother Jacinta, and brother Luis. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years Claire, his bother Roland (Charin), his three children Steve, Christine (John), Michael (Valerie) his dear grandchildren Michael (Kyra), Caitlin Jane (Rod), Christopher, Dane, Dylan, Isabella and his great grandson Jaxon Theodore Russell. Fernando will be laid to rest at Washington Memorial Park in Paramus on Monday January 20th following a funeral Mass at our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood starting at 10am. A wake is on Sunday January 19th from 4-8 PM at the Feeney Funeral home in Ridgewood. In lieu of flowers donations to the Ridgewood Education Foundation are welcome via check sent to 49 Cottage Place, Ridgewood NJ 07450 or online at ridgewoodedfoundation.org
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