Jose E Martinez Jr.

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Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend

My daddy’s name is Jose E Martinez Jr. He was born to Jose E Martinez, a railroad man for the Rio Grande Railroad and homemaker, Sofia (Madrid) Martinez on Jan. 6, 1939, in Pagosa Junction, Colo. He was the sixth child of nine. His eldest sister, Pauline, passed away shortly after birth, but he grew up with his sisters, Sulema (Emma), Kress, Jane and Mariaelena (Lena), and brothers, Demetrio (Demis), Martin and Phillip. He attended the first through eighth grade in Pagosa Junction and graduated from Pagosa Springs High School in 1957.

My dad spoke frequently about his childhood in Pagosa Junction and on his grandparent’s homestead in Carracas, N.M. He referred to the family homestead in Carracas as Grandma’s Place in honor of his grandma, Manuelita Madrid. He shared stories about his family hauling water from the river, growing their own food, hunting, raising their own livestock and riding horses. Hence, he referred to himself as a country boy rather than a cowboy. 

Of all the animals my dad worked with, I’d say he loved horses the most. He knew how to rope them, shoe them, doctor them, hunt on them and, most amazingly, speak to them. Many a person I came across referred to him as “the horse whisperer,” a self-taught “animal doctor” and one of “the very best horseshoers around.” 

My dad was known by many other names as well. My mom, Mary Ellen, lovingly called him Viejito and he lovingly called her “Mi Amor.” Many people, blood related or not, called him Papa Joe or Grandpa Joe. My son called him Grandpa or Grampy, I called him Papa, Dad, Daddy or Poppy (when I wanted something). Some of his other nicknames included Papa Smurf, Primo Joe, Joe Whiskers, Kenny Rogers and Grizzly Adams. If I’ve left any names off this list, please share them with us now.

While reading through the many choices of verses I could choose to include in my Daddy’s eulogy, I came across this verse that just seemed to put into words most closely how I feel my dad felt about passing over to the other side.

“Please don’t stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep, I am a thousand winds that blow: I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain: I am the gentle autumn’s rain. When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft star that shines at night.

“Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there I did not die.”

Anyone who knew my dad well knew that he had a strong belief in God. He read the Bible often and loved to discuss scripture with people of all religions. Therefore, although my dad was not a frequent church goer as an adult, he shared that he prayed often and his favorite place to pray was outdoors, enjoying God’s beautiful earth. I’d say his most favorite place in the world was the family homestead in Carracas, N.M. It was his and his brother Demis’ little piece of heaven. It was where he could do what he loved accompanied by many beloved friends and family members and why it will be his and my mom’s final resting place together forever — for only the hand of God could separate them.

My dad was not one to travel far from home. To him, the less than 50-mile radius around Pagosa that he drove his farm trucks around helping friends and family was exactly where he wanted to be and spend his time. He could tell you the names of all the rivers, mountains and families who lived within these boundaries up until the last month of his life. 

I will always remember my dad in his bib overalls, with reminder notes written on his hand in ink, his sparkling eyes, his weathered hands, his bearded face that I have only seen him without in pictures and his heartwarming smile. I feel like all who knew my dad loved him, respected him or recognized he was a special and hardworking man even if he only met them once. My dad was a very intelligent, knowledgeable and talented man, as well. In fact, he was one of the most intelligent people I ever met. He had the memory of an elephant clear up until the last days of his life. One of my most cherished memories will always be when he and my son Joe would talk about whatever topic of interest they were learning about together from geography to American presidents, history or just interesting fun facts, as my son called them. My father believed in being a lifelong learner. Therefore, my dad has spurred my son to research and read and learn about everything and anything encouraging him to get educated. One of both his and my proudest moments was when I became the first in our family to graduate college. 

Some of my father’s many talents were horseshoeing, rope and cable braiding, leather work, raising and doctoring livestock, heavy equipment operation, hunting and animal dressing. My dad was a man’s man who led by example. He could work alongside men half his age clear into his 80s. He was often described as not having a lazy bone in his body. Some of the many antidotes I remember him saying and living by most were:

Get educated. No one can take your education away from you.

Be early. Work your overtime.

Work hard and save so your family never goes without.

Work efficiently. Haste makes waste.

If you are going to do something — take the time to do it right.

By living by these words, my dad was a friend who people could count on; he was a husband and father who took amazing care of his family, and he lived and worked a life that he was proud of. That is why I can stand before you today with so much pride to read this eulogy to you. My Dad was the best, I truly could not have asked for a better childhood. My parents made me feel loved every day, he loved my mother deeply for 51 years, he worked alongside my husband, Phil, to improve our lives even as adults, and he adored our son Joe, who I named after him. 

My dad was no average Joe. He was Joe E Martinez Jr. God broke the mold when He made him. There will never be another like him, but we can all strive to be the beloved husband, parent, grandparent, sibling, relative and friend that he was during his beautiful life of 83 years on this earth.

If my dad had any advice to give to us today, I believe he’d say to love each other with your whole hearts, be a friend that people can count on, and work hard every day to make the best life that you can. My wish is that everyone that was touched by my father will share their stories and memories of my dad with theirs and our family’s young people. By doing so, he will live on in you all and them as well. 

Thank you and God Bless.