Bernie Fagundes had a purpose in life. It was to make people happy. He used music to do it. Bernie – you may have known him as Gene – touched the hearts of countless thousands of people in our area simply by sharing the music he loved so much. It made him happy to make others happy. He succeeded.

Bernie, or Gene, left us on Thursday. He was 70 years old.

I first met Bernie when I was a kid growing up around Weld and County Streets in the 1960s. The Fagundes family lived in a tenement behind mine. Those were changing times, and those changes reflected in the neighborhood where we lived. Bernie's mother was a hardcore, Portuguese Catholic mother. She kept her brood in line. Mrs. Fagundes was tough, but she was fair and effective.

Like the rest of his siblings, Bernie grew up loving life, loving people, and honoring his parents and God.

Bernie Fagundes loved music. He learned early on that music could bring him closer to people. Music allowed Bernie to positively impact the lives of others, if only for a little while. So he played music for them on the radio and at functions. Wherever people would gather, Bernie played music. Chances are he provided the music for your wedding or an anniversary party you attended.

Bernie served as Music Director for WBSM from 1976-1982. He also ran for the New Bedford City Council because he wanted to make life better for people.

There was no angle with Bernie Fagundes. What you saw is what you got. He always sought the best in people, even when it wasn't easy to do. Bernie lifted others and, by doing so, lifted himself.

I'm going to miss my friend Bernie "Gene Daniels" Fagundes. I am a better person because I knew him.

Rest easy, Bernie. I hear they have a hell of a band up in Rock n' Roll Heaven.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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