27. January 2011 · Comments Off on Compassionate Hothead · Categories: B. Family Legends · Tags:


My mother is the little girl at the far left.


My aunt Angela married Fernando de Senna Fernandes Rodrigues, who was the eldest son in a family on which the stars fell.  This family received so much recognition for excellence in military, civic, philanthropic, and even literary achievement, it was almost an embarrassment of awards, medals and titles.  Fernando started a successful import/export company.  He was the President of the Red Cross.

He was handsome and persuasive.   He was also impulsive and a hothead.  During World War II, when the Japanese army had conquered much of China and occupied nearby British Hong Kong, some of their brass came to Macau, ignored the fact that Portugal was not in the war, and threw their weight around.  The city was overflowing with refugees.  Rice was their main food.  The Japanese profiteers worked out a way to monopolize the sale of rice and raise the price.  Fernando knew that would lead to starvation for many Chinese.  He resisted.  He organized missions to smuggle rice into Macau, which he sold at a low price.  The profiteers warned him repeatedly.  Not only did he keep smuggling the rice, he got in their face.  They put him on their death list.  He eluded them.

Everyone knew that the allies were winning and the war would end soon.  On July 10, 1945, one month before the war ended, Fernando took a chance and went to a funeral.

Fernando walked out of the St. Miguel Cemetery with his two daughters, my cousins Alina and Norma, one on each arm.  A barrage of gunfire brought him down.  Alina and Norma, who was still a teenager, were both shot.   But the gunman was not aiming at them, and they survived, even though it took months to heal their wounds.

A group of young men, students at the lyceum, tackled and subdued the gunman.   He was part of a group of mercenary collaborators with the Japanese.

Fernando left seven children.  Some of his sons and their descendants carried on the company he started.  It is still thriving today.

The Red Cross posthumously awarded him a medal:

Medalha de Louvor da Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa.


s.Miguel cemetery


S. Miguel Cemetery, crime scene.