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Joseph E. Fernandes papers

This is an online exhibit that focuses on the life of Joseph Fernandes and the generational impact his chain of grocery stores had.


Mr. Fernandes believed that it was important to participate and give back to the community that supported his business endeavors. From donating to local causes, providing scholarships, attending various events as a representative of the Portuguese American community, or sharing his business knowledge, he spent as much time—if not more—on his philanthropic work as he did on his businesses.

Through existing documents, newspapers articles, and informal conversations with those who fondly remember him, one can ascertain that he did not participate in philanthropic work for the praise it might bring him. He truly believed that it was his duty to give back, however he could.


Mr. Fernandes personally or through the super market business, sponsored a large number of scholarships, none of which at the present time are still active. The following were available to students through the 1960s and 1970s:

  • Mercedes F. Branco Memorial Scholarships, awarded via the União Portuguesa Continental dos Estados Unidos da América
  • Fernandes Supermarkets, Inc., awards given to residents of the towns of Randolph and Easton 
  • Donald E. Becker Memorial Scholarship, awarded via the town of Norton 


Community Events

My father attributed a great part of his success to placing stores in areas where there was a Portuguese population and there was an affinity towards him because of his community involvement.  He loved helping the Portuguese community.    

Charity Work


When [dad] was drafted to run for Massachusetts Treasurer for the Republican party, he gave it his best shot.  He handed out pairs of the thick black glasses frames like his own.  He had a team of ladies handing out his political materials all dressed in red that he called the "tomatoes".  I'm pretty sure he knew that running as a Republican in MA at the time was not going to be successful!  This may have been when he got bit by the political bug and he went on to become involved more with politics and served as a US representative for Portuguese affairs and on supermarket industry councils.  

Tax Law

International Consulting

The International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC) (1947-1977) was founded by Nelson A. Rockefeller in January 1947. The Corporation was developed as a private business enterprise that would focus on upgrading the "basic economies" of lesser-developed nations by lowering food prices, building sound housing, mobilizing savings, and fostering industrialization. The objective was for the business to be profitable and sustainable, and to encourage others, especially nationals, to establish competitive businesses and thereby establish a "multiplier" development effect. In it's early years, 1947-1955, IBEC was especially focused in Latin America, specifically Brazil and Venezuela. The subsidiary Venezuelan Basic Economy Corporation (VBEC) was formed, which was divided into several companies: a fishing company, a food wholesaling company, which later became a retail supermarket company, and a milk company.

During the period 1956-1971, IBEC's mission broadened to encompass new activities, such as mutual funds, housing, poultry, and soluble coffee companies. During this time IBEC expanded into other geographical areas, eventually having operations in thirty-three countries on four continents.

From: International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC) records (FA084) 

My Dad had became friends with Nelson Rockefeller, and because he spoke Portuguese and was in the supermarket business, he was invited to collaborate with them in 1958 as a consultant to IBEC in South America.  My Dad was able to understand and speak Spanish.   At that time there were 5 stores, and there were no new additions to the chain until my Dad returned from South America in 1960. He would come and go.  My Dad had wanderlust and loved traveling all over the world during the course of his life.

Industry Recognition

Community Representation


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Sonia Pacheco
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Claire T. Carney Library
Room 237
285 Old Westport Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747