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Mary Philomina Martinez

Memorial Service for Mary Philomina Martinez

HEARTS Veterans Museum Volunteer, Active in St. Thomas

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at the Sam Houston Memorial Funeral home Saturday Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. for Mary Philomena Byrne – Martinez, otherwise known as “Marie.” She died Nov. 22, 2018.

She was born June 13, 1936 in Tipperary Ireland to John and Josephine Byrne and was the oldest of seven children. As a child she and her brother Jim wandered the countryside exploring streams, caves, and pretending to be movie stars. She attended Gaelic schools for a short time before the family moved to England. Her hand writing was forever forged during this time and the use of a quill left a lasting impression upon her script.

Marie attended school and later went on to work at a local dress shop and worked at the London Palladium introducing big bands like Tommy Dorsey and dancing the night away with her best friend, Laneta. Then one day a young American soldier named Samuel Martinez walked up and told her he was going to marry her and he did. They were married April 14, 1957 and were blessed with four children Steven, Cheril, Pamela and Don.

Sam and Marie set out on a journey together with nothing but a hard work ethic and a little bit of luck. Sam originally owned a gas station and then went onto work at Sam Houston as well as Marie. They threw caution to the wind and decided to open a restaurant in Groveton Texas called Casa Martinez. It was a tough business that lasted a few years but the experience led them back to Huntsville Texas.

Sam went to work at TDCJ and Marie worked for a year at Baskin & Robbins eventually returning to Sam Houston State University where she retired from the Newton Gresham library. Marie was known as a campus mom and took in students who needed food, shelter, money, advice, or just to enjoy a home cooked meal. Her compassion was well known throughout her life.

Marie joined Sam in retirement and at first was apprehensive so she took up cooking to fight boredom. Sam enjoyed piddling in the garage cutting up wood and making stencils which she found boring. This eventually led to the two catering events such as weddings and dinners. Both enjoyed people and serving their communities through the HEARTS veteran’s museum and St. Thomas, The Apostle Catholic church.

Mom was well known in the community for her cooking as she was always asked to make the desserts at work related functions before retirement. Her cakes, cookies, pies, and banana nut bread were made with love and her favorite thing was to call and brag about how much money they brought at the annual Veteran’s auction. This money she raised sent kids to college through a scholarship fund.

Marie’s battle with cancer began while she was employed at SHSU in the late 80’s but she refused to give into the thought of letting it get her down. She had too much to do and was enjoying life too much as a grandmother and volunteer. Sadly, Marie known to many as “Mom” passed away Thanksgiving, November 22, 2018 after a long hard fought battle and joined her husband of 61 years.

She is survived by her brother Nial and Sister Pam Allday of the UK, two sons, Steven Martinez and partner Dale Gideon, son Don Martinez and Wife Deborah O’Barr, as well as a daughter Pamela Baggett and husband Bruce Baggett. Grandchildren include Brandon Martinez, Seth Lewis, Jantz Martinez, Zane Baggett, Brys Baggett, Forbes Baggett, Lexus Baggett, and Byrne Baggett as well as four great grandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces

In lieu of flowers we ask that a donation be made to the HEARTS Museum of Texas in the name of Samuel & Marie Martinez for the “Jose and Zenobia Martinez – College Scholarship fund” so that others who serve their country can receive a blessing.


About Rich Heiland

Rich Heiland, former publisher of the Huntsville Item and owner of Free Press publications, LLC, a reporting/writing firm working with media, has been a reporter, editor and publisher at several daily papers. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University. He can be reached at freepresstx@gmail.com or 936-293-0293.

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