Lifetime resident of Archuleta County, Jose “Abel” Martinez, 90, passed away at his home surrounded by family and friends on September 26, 2010. He was born in Dulce, N.M., on July 5, 1920, to Belarmino Martinez and Mabel Wilson. He grew up on the family homestead in Edith, CO (Coyote Park). When his mother, Mabel, passed away, Abel was a young boy and helped his father raise his younger siblings.
In 1942 he began his service with the United States Army. Abel was an Army medic during heavy combat operations in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He received several decorations and citations including the American Theater, Asiatic Pacific Theater, Philippine Liberation, Good Conduct Medal and the Victory Medal. When he was discharged in 1946, he returned to Edith where he met his sweetheart and true love, Clara Valdez. They were married on October 18, 1948, in Pagosa Springs where Abel built their home and raised their six children. He was a member of the VFW and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for many years and retired from the Archuleta County School District in 1982 after 27 years of service. Anyone who graduated from Pagosa Springs High School during his service knew who Abel was and enjoyed chatting with the little man with the big smile.
During his retirement he enjoyed, camping, hunting and fishing and had many fond memories of his camping trips with friends and relatives to Mancos and Williams Lake. He also loved going to the family ranch in Edith where he enjoyed the beautiful view and took care of the garden that he and Clara planted every spring. Abel’s entire family enjoyed camping at “The Ranch” every summer and loved to listen to Abel’s stories about his childhood and the fun times he and his brothers had playing on Archuleta Mesa with their surrounding neighbors in Edith as well as with their friends from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation.
He was preceded in death by his parents; five brothers — Arquin, Sam and Gilbert Martinez, Bernardino and Adolfo Vialpando; and three sisters — Encarnacion “Chona” Tafoya-Talamante, Florencia Martinez and Mariquita Herrera.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Clara E. Martinez; his four sons and two daughters — Ray Martinez (the barber on Lewis Street), Abel Martinez, Jr., and wife Elaine of Pueblo, Colo., Arnold Martinez of San Diego, Calif., Priscilla Robison and husband Mark of Farmington, N.M., Walter Martinez of Pagosa Springs, and Meliza Lane and husband John of Denver, Colo.; six grandchildren — Lynette Manzanares, Candida Bennett, Matthew and Alan Martinez and Christopher and Michaela Jaramillo, Britni and Dalton Lane; four great-grandchildren — Meghan and Dylan Manzanares and Katie and Sarah Bennett; and many nieces and nephews.
Abel was always a very strong, independent man and had a true fighter’s spirit as was his nature, but the health issues of the past several years finally took their toll on him, slowly robbing him of his energy, stamina, and independence. It was obvious he had lost his independence when he could no longer drive himself to the local post office where he would always see a friend or two and stop to talk with them before heading back home to spend the rest of his day sitting on the front porch with Clara watching the traffic go by and waving to every passing car. Abel was a special man and will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him.
Rosary and viewing will be held on Thursday, September 30, 2010, from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral mass is Friday at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church with Father Carlos Alvarez officiating. Interment will be held at Hill Top Cemetery and a reception celebrating Abel’s life will follow at the Parish Hall.
For friends and family who cannot attend the funeral, please log on to www.whitesfamilyfuneralhome.net to sign the Guestbook.