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Sam and Marie Martinez on their wedding day

Obituary for Samuel Martinez, businessman, veteran

Samuel Martinez, Huntsville, passed away peacefully at his home Thursday night.  He was the third son of six children born to Jose & Zenobia Martinez of Huntsville Texas. Samuel was born in the sawmill quarters at Boettcher’s mill on Feb. 8, 1933.

Sam was an athlete at Huntsville High in both track and football and grew up around the saw mill working summers at the mill for his dad and hauling hay and ice. His father went blind with cataracts when he was young so at age 12 he delivered ice on a route with his brothers before school to help make ends meet.

After graduating from Huntsville High School in 1953 he attended Sam Houston State University and at the end of the first semester he was drafted into the United States Army He served 17 months and 14 days in Germany. During his last few weeks of service he and some friends went to France and England to site see and what a site he found. It was a beautiful Irish girl named Marie at a train station that he walked up to and introduced himself as her future husband.

Three weeks later he returned home and wrote back to her for a year before sending a one way ticket to Texas. They married on April 14, 1957 at First Baptist Church in Huntsville. They had four children.

After returning from the army Sam and his brother Joe went into business in Huntsville selling tires, service, and gas. They dabbled in circle track racing during the 1950’s and 60’s and later on ran the concession business at the old Huntsville race track.

Shortly thereafter he went to work at Sam Houston State University in the “Garbology” department as he liked to put it. He also ran a shipping business as a short haul carrier Railway Express. In 1970 he and his younger brother, Manual, partnered in a restaurant business in Groveton Texas called Casa Martinez Restaurant. It was the third of three restaurants to have the family name.

While in Groveton he was asked to be the acting Mayor pro tem and was featured on the front page making the first transatlantic call to London England from Groveton. He called his mother-in‐law on that call which once again proved his devotion to family. The restaurant business was tough and the building was sold and he returned to Huntsville in 1974 to begin his career with Texas Department of Criminal justice.

He was on the job less than 6 months when the Carrasco siege happened and was promoted to Sargent during this time. A few years later in 1976 he was promoted to Captain and moved his family to the Goree unit in Huntsville. Sam retired from the Texas Department of Criminal justice and both he and his wife enjoyed life beyond measure as volunteers with St. Thomas the apostle Catholic church, the HEARTS Veteran’s museum, and catering various fundraisers for anyone ever in need.

A life of service and a reputation for honesty and integrity are things he will always be remembered for by his family and friends. He was totally devoted to his family and visited his father and mother each morning before going to work while they were alive. He loved telling stories of his time in the military and different stunts he pulled as a young man. Many people came to him for advice because he thought clearly and would always tell you the truth if you were willing to listen. The value of his knowledge and kind spirit lives on with his memory.

Sam is preceded in death by his parents and five siblings as well as his daughter Cheril who passed away in 2014.

He is survived by his wife Marie of 61 years and three children, Steven Martinez of Seattle Washington and partner Dale Gideon, Pamela and Bruce Baggett of Huntsville, & Don & Deborah Martinez of Huntsville with grandchildren Seth Lewis, Brandon Martinez, Jantz Martinez, Zane Baggett, Brys Baggett, Lexus Baggett, Forbes Baggett, and Byrne Baggett.

He and Marie have five great grandchildren with extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins stretching across the globe from The United States, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

The family wishes to extend a special thank you to each person who called and came by to visit dad the last few years. His smile, stories, funny faces, and humor will be greatly missed by all that truly knew him.

Services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home. Visitation will be Tuesday Oct. 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Interment will be at Brooke Cemetery, Huntsville, Texas.

Condolences may 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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