Nelson C. Martinez, 84, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the early hours of March 26, 2021 at his home in Española. A beloved husband, father and grandfather, he passed away peacefully in his sleep while in hospice after a period of declining health.
Nelson was born in Truchas on April 15, 1936, the eldest son of Epimenio and Sofronia Martinez. He was raised in the Presbyterian Church and attended boarding school from the age of 12 at Menaul School in Albuquerque. He enlisted in the US Army in 1954 and was stationed in Germany and France, where he served as a Military Police Officer. After his honorable discharge, he attended New Mexico Highlands University, majoring in business.
He met Shirley Alire of Dixon while working in Santa Fe between semesters. The two were married at the Bethel Baptist Church in Española on December 9, 1961 after he finished college. The couple eventually made their home in the San Pedro neighborhood, raising three children — Carol Renee, Eric, and Lisa Christian — in the Baptist Christian faith. The family was active at First Baptist Church in Española, where Nelson was a member for 59 years. He became a church deacon, serving until his daughter Christian’s stroke focused his attention back home.
Nelson loved spending time with his eight grandchildren, the first born in 1984 and the last in 2011. Each grandchild was very close with their grandpa, filling the Martinez home in San Pedro with constant activity, especially after his 1992 retirement from the State Highway Department, where he worked for over 30 years, including serving as project manager of the Taos Highway fencing project.
Nelson is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley Martinez; children, Carol Renee Wall, Eric Martinez (Anna) and Christian Lisa Martinez; siblings, Elmer Martinez (Flora) and Lorraine Gallegos (Billy); grandchildren, Jeremiah, Crystal, James Caleb, Ricky, Christian “Lilo”, Noah and Griffin; and great-grandchild, Jacob. He was preceded in death by his eldest son, James; father and mother, Epimenio and Sofronia (Jacquez) Martinez, and son-in-law, Richard Wall.
There will be a Celebration of Life service on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Espanola, 913 La Joya St. A private burial will be held at the Santa Fe National Cemetery at a later date. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, masks and social distancing will be observed.
The Martinez family would like to thank Presbyterian's Hospice team, First Baptist Church, and all other friends and family who have offered support and condolences. The family of Nelson C. Martinez has entrusted their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley.