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Marie (Mary) Philomina Martinez

Obituary for Marie (Mary) Philomina Martinez

Long-time SHSU Library employee, active in HEARTS Veterans Museum

A Memorial Mass for Marie (Mary) Philomina Martinez, 82, will be held Friday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas Catholic Church, 1323, 16thStreet, Huntsville.,

She was born June 13, 1936 in Tipperary, Ireland to John (Jack) and Johanna McGrath Byrne and passed way Nov. 22, 2108.

Known to her family as May, she lived in Ireland until she was about 10 years old. The family moved to London, England where she would live until she was 20. May worked for the local Singers establishment and like her mum became a gifted seamstress.

In a serendipitous event, she was in the company of one of her dear friends when she met a young soldier, Samuel Martinez, from the United States who was stationed in Germany and on leave with another soldier, Sam Martinez. Sam was quite smitten with his newfound love and corresponded with her nearly a year before he was able to woo her into being his bride and move to the United States.  They married April 14, 1957 at the First Baptist Church of Huntsville. At that time may took “Marie” as her first name.

In May, 1958, they began their family when they welcomed Steven, followed by Cheril, Pam and Don. Marie spent the early years of their lives as a housewife and caretaker of the family. Blessed with the ability as an excellent seamstress, Marie was an excellent cook and baker for her little family.

Yearning for more, Marie would eventually join the ranks of the workforce by working as a waitress until she found the community where she would thrive at the Sam Houston State University Library. There, Marie not only excelled in her work, she also created bonds that would last a lifetime with the staff, faculty and student.

Marie left the university for a short period when she and Sam opened a restaurant in Groveton, Texas for two years. When they returned to Huntsville, it would not be long before Marie was back at the place she loved – the university library.

Many students were welcomed into the Martinez home through the years at the blessing of Marie and Sam. Marie would embrace those who needed the greatest support especially students who were here studying abroad. She understood all too well the hardship they endured in separating from their family to achieve their goals in life.

As Sam and Marie felt the empty nest syndrome settling in, they decided they would not be left sitting in sorrow at their home. Instead, the two threw themselves wholeheartedly into those areas which they felt needed them the most. Marie could be found regularly providing her delicious cakes for the catholic bazaar auctions. While Sam helped the Knights of Columbus prepare his infamous chicken fried steak, Marie could be counted on to provide a decadent dessert for the evening.

She and Sam would also spend endless hours preparing packages to be sent to soldiers in active duty. Marie would delight in her opportunity to quilt each Wednesday at the Hearts Museum with her friends. Sam and Marie were active in the creation of the museum and donated countless hours of their time to it.

While most recognized her gifts of sewing and cooking, her truest gift was that of a loving and gifted nurturer. She cared for her husband and family even though she began battling cancer in 1989. Despite her own recurrence of cancer in 2014 and again in 2017, she remained steadfast as the primary caretaker of Sam through it all. Marie will be remembered for her dynamic smile that would light up the room and the love she held for her family and friends.

She was preceded in death by Sam; parents Jack and Josie; sister, June, brothers, Jim, Vincent and Ned, and daughter, Cheril Ann. She is survived by her son, Steven J. Martinez and Dale of Burien, Washington; daughter, Pamela S. Baggett and Bruce of Huntsville, Texas; son, Don R. Martinez and Deborah of Huntsville, Texas; brother, Nial Byrne of London, England; sister, Pamela Allday and Maurice of London, England; grandchildren, Seth Lewis, Brandon and Dawyn Martinez, Jantz Martinez, Zane Baggett, Brys Baggett and Michelle Shriver, Forbes Baggett, Lexus Baggett and Tyler Fletcher, and Byrne Baggett; great-grandchildren, Kinleigh Brae Baggett, Ethan Martinez, Ella Milan Baggett, Rowan Baggett, Braxton Baggett as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins from around the world.

Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences can be left at www.shmfh.com.

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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