HISPANIC HERITAGE SERIES PART VI OF VI
Answer a call today from a political pollster and the assumption is that immigration is the key issue facing Latinos. While an important issue, one can argue that the most important issue for Latinos in Colorado is education. The offspring of Samuel Martinez (1890-1969) have contributed to the shaping of our state and it was all done based on a culture of education.
The Martinez’ settled in Sugar City, Colo., after many years as residents of Walsenburg, Colo. Sam Martinez married Mary Barbara Perrino, his neighbor in Walsenburg, herself the first generation of an immigrant family from Italy. They were poor, came from different cultures and had a height differential of nearly half a foot — with Mary being the taller of the two. Sam and Barbara would go on to have 10 children, Ben, Lil, Anne, Francis, Dorothy, Arthur, Paul, Everett, Sam and Cora, each of whom would make their mark on this state of ours, after beginning as field workers in the height of the Great Depression.
Arthur Martinez was born in 1922 and was a veteran of World War II in the European theater. Upon returning home from the war, Arthur attended the University of Denver on the GI Bill and became a successful accountant for the United States government and was assigned to work in South Korea. Arthur’s daughter, Beverly Martinez, became Denver’s first Latina television news reporter in the 1970s at KWGN Denver’s 2, and hosted “Denver Now with Beverly Martinez,” where she interviewed local and visiting celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Shah of Iran and former President Gerald Ford. Beverly’s sister Barbara (Martinez) Maes is a local attorney in private practice with her husband Robert. Barbara is a board member of Mi Casa Resource Center and on the advisory board of Brain Wise. Ms. Maes attended Denver University’s School of Law as an adult and prepared for the bar exam, all while battling cancer. She and her husband continue their private practice and are at the forefront of Latino causes in our community.
Paul Martinez was born in 1920 and was also a veteran of the Second World War. Paul’s son Michael was an attorney with the firm of Mann and Shappell, an Associate General Counsel for the Regional Transportation District and an Assistant Denver City Attorney. In 2000, Gov. Bill Owens appointed Michael as a judge to the Colorado Second District Judicial Court. Previously, he was a Magistrate for the 17th Judicial District. The electorate retained Judge Martinez in 2010 for another six years by a 70 percent margin. A daughter, Evelyn (Martinez) Casias, a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder majored in Journalism and Communications. Casias a former radio broadcast executive is currently a media and advertising professional, owner of First Choice Media Group.
Everett Martinez was born in 1928 and was a veteran of the Korean War. Everett, my father and namesake, returned from Korea in 1953 and finished in his education in pharmacy at the University of Colorado at Boulder on the GI Bill. In 1958, he purchased a struggling drug store on Denver’s 17th street and thereafter would become Colorado’s longest practicing pharmacist until 2004. The Cooper Drug Co. became a popular source of medical care, tasty Mexican food at a restaurant my mother ran adjoined thereto and a hang out to enjoy endless stories from my father. My sister Barbara, my family’s oldest, is a CPA with a state agency after serving previously as the CFO of a local college and Aurora Water. Barbara was the salutatorian of North High School in 1985 and scored in the top 10 for the Colorado CPA exam. I attended the University of Colorado and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2002 with a dual degree. Thereafter I was fortunate enough to attend Harvard Law School and have been a practicing attorney in Denver specializing in municipal finance for the last five years. Also, I am the founding president of the Latin American Educational Foundation’s Young Professionals Board in 2008.
A short, working-class man born in 1890 spawned progeny that have become leaders in Colorado’s financial, legal and media fields. It was all done with a strong thread in the Martinez DNA that viewed education as a key to success and the means to help shape one’s community. When I graduated from Harvard Law, Beverly Martinez sent me a card that said, “Today, a long line of Martinez’ are proud.” Upon reading this short snapshot of Samuel Martinez’ family, I hope Colorado’s Latinos are proud of a long line of Martinez’.