TRIBUTE TO FERMIN (MING) PAGAN
Born Fermin Colón Pagán... on the Big Island of Hawaii April 11, 1926, Ming was the12th child of Antone and Ramona Colon Pagan.
Shortly after his birth the family migrated to Oahu. At the age of 17 he began working at Pearl Harbor as a machinist. He enjoyed his work and promoted very quickly. Ming may have been a machinist by trade, however, he also mastered in carpentry, mechanics, electrical and plumbing. He would call on these skills to build the first family house on Pahulu Street.
Ming met Carmelita Velles in 1946 and they married in June 1950. Shortly thereafter, he made a brave bold decision to move his young family to the mainland, wanting to raise his sons with all the opportunities America has to offer. He worked for Lockheed 1957 to 1962 during the Mercury Space Program. He retired from Varian’s Associates at age 60 after 24 years of service to the company.
Though he was always active in music, dance and cultural activities, it was in the early 60’s that his pride in his heritage drove him to give back and Ming Pagan became a leader in the Puerto Rican community. He served as President for some 10 years with the Puerto Rican Union of Mutual Aide. He would continue to serve PRUMA throughout the decades that followed in many other positions and capacities.
In 1972 Ming Pagan, along with Jorge Piñeiro and Isidoro Calderón, founded the Western Region Puerto Rican Council. Their vision was to form an umbrella organization to unify the various Puerto Rican social organizations of the western region of the United States into a political action group. They sought to bring economic and social development to their culture. They established relations with state and federal officials. President Gerald Ford dispatched one of his aides to meet with the Western Region Puerto Rican Council, prior to one of his trips to California. Their vision began coming to fruition when in 1974 the WRPRC received $25,000 to fund a cultural heritage festival. The first Día de San Juan Festival held in the western United States was born through these efforts and was held at the original site of Marine World on the peninsula.
He was known by all who encountered him as a man of integrity, with a great sense of humor. By all accounts, Ming Pagan was a great man. Many saw him as a role model for the importance of hard work, success and being courageous in life. He inspired the young to seek a good education and to be involved in cultural events. Although he appeared to be at times quite and humble, in actuality he was very charismatic and those he encountered observed this. Ming loved his family, his heritage and his country. His greatness and wisdom will be remembered through the good works he has performed to improve people’s lives. We honor the man Fermin (Ming) Pagan today by remembering the man he was. We honor him tomorrow by following his example.