Tuesday, February 19, 2013
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Raul Ignacio Hernandez

Raul Ignacio Hernandez, 64, of Homestead, Fla., passed away at his home Feb. 16, 2013, after a five-year fight with melanoma.

Born in Regla, a province of Havana, Cuba, on July 31, 1948, to Carmen Gonzalez and Joseph "Pepe" Hernandez, Raul immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1956 and settled in Key West, Fla., where he spent most of his adult life.

As a young boy, Raul attended San Carlos Institute and later graduated from Key West High in 1967. He received his bachelor's degree from Florida State University College of Education in 1972. In 1982 he married his sweetheart, Elsa Roque, daughter of Maria Elena Suarez and Clemente Roque.

Raul loved teaching. After graduating from college, he spent more than 25 years as a Monroe County teacher. He taught Spanish, English for speakers of other languages and physical education. Raul also taught fourth grade at Gerald Adams, Sugarloaf and Glynn Archer elementary schools. During summer breaks, he and his wife took long car trips throughout the United States. Raul loved to bring history to life, whether it was camping in one of the great national parks or taking a leisurely ride down Route 66 toward the Wild West. To Raul, it was all about the journey, not the destination.

But most of all, Raul loved the game of baseball. It was his passion. He joined the Lion's Club Little League team in 1958 and also played for the Elks' team in the Little Conch League. Later, as third baseman in the Key West men's softball league, he played for such teams as Caballeros de la Luz, Canvas Creations, Faustos and Sloppy Joe's.

While at Florida State University, he also played for the Cuban Comets. Raul was an avid fan of the New York Yankees and often traveled to see them practice during spring training camp. But even so, Raul loved the excitement and skill involved in a good game, even if that meant his beloved Yankees lost.

Raul remained a teacher in Key West until his retirement in 2005. He and his wife settled in Old Town, Fla., on a 23-acre parcel of land they named High Robles. There, Raul loved to host family gatherings, build bonfires and entertain his younger cousins with tall tales of mysterious creatures prowling the banks of the Suwannee River. While in Old Town, Raul was an active member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Cross City, Fla., as well as a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Due to the onset of illness in 2008, Raul and his wife relocated back south to Homestead, Fla., to be close to family and friends.

Raul is survived by his wife Elsa; his maternal cousin Charles Bearham, his wife Lydia and their twin daughters, Hannah and Mikaela; his paternal cousin, Olga Felipe, her husband Ernesto, and their children Ivette and Ernesto, Jr.

The family invites family and friends to celebrate Raul's life with them. A viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, 418 Simonton St., Key West. The viewing will be followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m. at The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, 1010 Windsor Lane. Burial will take place at Key West Cemetery.

Visit the Branam Funeral Home website at www.Branamfuneralhome.com for further information and view a short video of Raul's life. Donations can be made to The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea for the Adoration Chapel Faith Walk. For information, call Maritere Cardenas at 786-587-9883.