Our cheerful, loving father left an enduring mark on our hearts. He will be greatly missed by his children, Della Martinez, Theresa Austill (Lyle), Frances Rogers, Raymond (Linda), Diane Morrell (Jim), Monica Higgins (Bill), Christopher (Beza), and brother to Augustine, MaryLou, and Rose.
Family was everything to Bennie. There was nothing he loved more than to be with his family. It didn’t matter if you were a brother, great-grandchild or second-twice-removed cousin; you were family and were always welcomed into the Martinez home. Bennie was a gentle and humble patriarch father, grandfather and great-grandfather of our family. He had a significant presence in the lives of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
He was the loving grandfather to Denise Garcia (Sue), Patricia Van Thiel (Mike), Andrea Garcia, Ryan Garcia (Kathy), Todd Montoya (Lisa), Brad Montoya (Debbie), David Martinez (Kim), Tim Sandoval (Melissa) Amanda Ontiveros, Luke Martinez, Dylan Martinez, Dawn Whitson (James), James Morrell (Lindsay) Jesse Higgins (Randee), Andy Higgins (Michelle) Jamie Higgins, Forrest Martinez, Pazion Martinez and Bennie Martinez. Grandpa cherished children, especially his time with his 25 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.
Benigno, was born on Sept. 20, 1928, in a small town nestled between the rugged San Juan Mountains in Francés, Colo., to Francisco and Francisquita Ocaña Martinez. Benigno only knew his mother as an infant as she passed six months after his birth.
As a young boy, Benigno spent his summer months with older brother Christoval and hiked into high-country Burn County, where they looked after hundreds of sheep. Christoval would leave at dusk to dance in town, abandoning Benigno to blankets and prayer for warmth during the frigid nights until Christoval returned days later. Benigno was scared and cold those long summer nights, but now we understand where Benigno found warmth. Benigno cuddled between our Lord and Savior and his mother, giving them quality time to prepare Bennie for his turn to leave the flock to dance in town.
A few years later, Bennie left the tent’s warmth and brisk mountain air into the Pine Grove dance hall in Pagosa Springs. There he met a beautiful, 14-year-old young lady who introduced herself as a “16-year-old” Clara Martinez. Bennie found a new source of warmth and they were married the following year on June 2, 1947.
He spent his life as a hardworking, dedicated and loyal man with various jobs. His devotion to providing for his family relocated him back and forth between Pagosa Springs, Seattle and Salt Lake City, where they eventually settled.
Dad was a devout lifelong Catholic and was blessed with God’s warmth to his last breath. Our Lord welcomed Benigno to join his mother, whom he only knew as an infant, father, siblings John, Leandro, Genevieve, Madeline, Christoval and Gloria, and his grandson Adrian, son-in-law Wayne Rogers and his beloved wife of 52 years, Clara Martinez.
He will be sadly missed by his many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The family would like to thank all the health care professionals from St. Joseph’s Villa who cared for our beloved patriarch in his final months, especially during his final battle with the coronavirus.
Bennie will be remembered for his dimpled, contagious smile, sparkling eyes, warming hugs, his “SALUD!” of tequila, his “Bennieisms” and home remedies, the feeling of his soft hands while we danced, hearing his “AYE, AYE!” while we worked and played together. Although our hearts are heavy, we will celebrate the reuniting with his beloved Clara and look forward to hearing “Hey, Mija/Mijo!” or “Mi Hito/Hita!” when we join them in heaven. Until that day, we know they will be watching over us.
Funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Monday, Nov. 30; he was buried with Clara at Mt. Calvary cemetery.