Letittia “Lei” Fernandez, a retired professional hula dancer, teacher, singer, and matriarch of the Fernandez ohana, passed away peacefully in her sleep early Sunday morning at her home with family by her side. She was 87.
Letittia “Aunty Lei” Ko’omakawailani Maryann Ogawa, was born on January 15, 1936, to Daniel Ka’alaiki Ogawa and Janet Kealamoi Letittia Schilling-Ogawa in Ko’olaupoko, Heeia, Territory of Hawaii, and raised in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu. She was of Hawaiian, German, and Japanese descent and attended St Ann’s and Castle High School.
Aunty Lei was proud of her Hawaiian heritage and enjoyed learning about her culture and ancestry. She had a deep love for dancing hula, singing Hawaiian songs while playing her ukulele and performing with other professional musicians and dancers throughout her hula career. She moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1979 when her husband, SGT Major Fernandez was stationed at Fort Ord and later retired in Marina, California.
Aunty Lei was an excellent cook, and well known for her famous “Mac” salad. She truly loved life which included traveling with husband Butch and spending time with her grandkids. She enjoyed cribbage, scrabble, crossword puzzles, playing poker on the weekends with her “card gang” and was a long-time parishioner of St Jude’s Catholic Church and supporter of San Carlos Catholic School.
Lei was active in various community organizations such as the old Fort Ord Thrift Shop, VFW Post 811, American Legion Ladies Auxiliary of Post 695, SHS ROTC school events, The Monterey Film Commission, The Heart Gang, Marina Labor Day Parade, Hawaii Veterans and Old Soldiers. In 2017, Lei along with her husband, was nominated Man and Woman of the year for their numerous contributions to the city of Marina.
Lei is preceded in death by husband John “Butch” Cullen Fernandez, son Bryson Ka’alaiki Fernandez, parents Daniel and Janet Ogawa, siblings Buzzy, John, Jane, and Donald Ogawa. She is survived by daughters Dawn Nawahine Camacho (Joe), Pat-Lynn Cullen Maliawahinekeli’iokamalu Jaurigue (Steve) and Letittia “Sukoshi” Leina’ala Moana (Pat), Daughter-in-law, Reiko Fernandez, grandchildren Brandi, Ramie, Bryan, Joey, Keoni, Kaulana, Po’okela and Koapaka, great grandchildren Robbie, Sina, Sarina, Sunny, Brynn, Brayson, Logan and Eden as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass service will be held in honor of Lei Fernandez at St Jude’s Catholic Church of Marina, on Friday, February 24, 2023, at 11am. A memorial and burial will take place at Hawaiian Memorial Veterans Park at a future date. To offer online condolences, please visit www.mission-mortuary.com.