Obituary: Michael A. Fernandez, 1945-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Michael A. Fernandez, 1945-2022

Cofounder of the Touchstone Commune was a counselor and mediator who worked on programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and Burlington Police Department

Published August 8, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated August 8, 2022 at 2:13 p.m.

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Mike Fernandez - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Mike Fernandez
Michael A. Fernandez, born in Syosset, N.Y., in 1945, passed away on July 23, 2022, after waging a short and intense battle against cancer. He is survived by his sons, Michael Fernandez (Gamynne) and Nathan Fernandez (Barbara); his grandchildren, Sam and Jonathan; his life partner, Helen Maciejewski, and her daughter, Kate Foley (Nick); his sister Susan Armstrong (Jeff); and his beloved nieces and nephews. He is also survived by members of the Touchstone Community, his family of choice. Mike was predeceased by his parents, Efegenio and Luisa (Quintana) Fernandez; and his older sister Olivia (Libby) Pratt and her husband, Phil.

In 1967, Mike moved to Vermont from Miami, where he and other idealistic young newcomers to rural Vermont formed the Touchstone Commune. Touchstone members shared equipment, tools and skills to build their homes and live off the land. They raised their families together, and these relationships matured and endured as friends for life.

Mike was a creative and charismatic problem solver who loved working with a wide variety of people. He was trained as a counselor and mediator and loved working as a conflict resolution professional. He was in private practice as a counselor with the Center for Change in Burlington, Vt. Mike was proud to have worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in Guantánamo, Cuba, as a liaison between the military and Cuban Balseros, who were detained on the island before being resettled in the U.S. He used this experience as inspiration to help develop the Community Support Program for the Burlington Police Department, and the program was replicated in several New England communities. He also co-facilitated educational groups for men convicted of domestic violence. Later, he worked for Howard Mental Health supporting young men in residential settings.

Mike balanced the demands of his work life with woodworking and home improvement projects. He also enjoyed fishing, playing golf, basketball and shooting pool. Mike was kind, funny, compassionate and quick to lend a hand whenever needed, and he loved to enliven a conversation with a good story. He is loved very much by all his extended family and friends and will be deeply missed.

The family is planning a celebration of his life in the fall. We are grateful to the caregivers at the University of Vermont Medical Center, especially the nurses in the ICU and on Baird 6. In lieu of flowers, please make a gift in memory of Mike to the UVM Medical Center, 111 Colchester Ave., Courtyard Given North, 3rd Floor, Burlington, VT 05401. Donations will benefit nursing needs.

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