One of those characters was trivia world champ Ben Fernandez. Ben passed away Dec. 19, 2018 at the age of 87. Ben and his wife, Donna, both grew up in the inner East Bay and moved to Pleasanton in the 1968 when Hacienda Business Park was a seasonal wetland where duck hunters could seek their prey during winter days. Those were the days when the Pleasanton Valley housing tract was being constructed and seven years before Foothill High opened.
Professionally, he sold insurance, but it was his activities outside of the office for which he became known. He also had one of the great wry smiles coupled with a twinkle in his eye. Ben was an easy man to like.
He served as president of the Pleasanton of Chamber of Commerce in 1975 and was an active member for years. Ben served on two key committees that updated the city’s General Plan in 1986 and 1993. He was active politically, but never ran for office, preferring to support other candidates. The chamber honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2009.
He served the community for years as a member of the Lions Club, including a stint as its president.
Ben grew up following the Oakland Oaks baseball team and that became the basis for his incredible gift of trivia knowledge. He also was a fan of old movies so he was a great addition to any trivia team.
After living in Pleasanton for decades, Donna and Ben downsized their home and moved back to their roots in Oakland in 2001, swapping the suburban lifestyle for the urban center. He spent the last years of his life at the Veteran’s Home in Yountville.
A celebration of his life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Pleasanton Hotel, a most fitting site to say a formal goodbye.
Thanks to Jeb Bing for material in this post that came from his 2009 column about the chamber’s lifetime award to Ben.