Joe Martinez Sr., husband of Maria Cano Martinez (deceased) and Donna Martinez (deceased), was born Feb. 1, 1928, in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Roman and Xenofia (Martinez) Martinez, where he lived until the death of his mother which prompted a move with his father to Chicago, Ill.
Joe came to Iowa several times in the 1940’s as part of an organization run by the Mennonite church that gave inner-city teenage boys the chance to spend two weeks in the country and fresh air of the farms.
Joe made the trip four years in a row and found a helping hand. On his fourth summer he was offered a chance to stay in Iowa and complete his education at Kalona High School. In June of 1948, Joe graduated from Kalona High School and began his adult life in Iowa.
In 1950, Joe Martinez was drafted into the military to fight in the Korean War. In his time with the Army he served as staff sergeant for his squad. Joe was in his words “blown up” in battle and thrown into the air incurring serious injuries that warranted his honorable discharge. Because of the injuries he suffered in battle and the leadership his demonstrated over his squad, Joe was awarded the Purple Heart and Korean service medal, four bronze service stars. Tragically out of those 13 Iowans in his draft group, he was the only one to return home.
It can be said that Joe always had a desire to serve his community, so with that in mind he settled on nursing. Joe earned his RN certification and specialized in kidney dialysis and worked at the VA hospital in Iowa City until his retirement.
Survivors include his three sons: Joey (Erin) Martinez of Denver, Colo., Mark (Lori) Martinez of Cedar Rapids, and Robert (Leticia) Martinez of Brookfield, Ill.; grandchildren: Rubi, Roman, Myles, Tia and RJ; great-grandson: Mason; and three stepsons: Darryl (Elizabeth) Gunderson of Nevada, Texas, Dennis (Suzette) Gunderson of Fond Du Lac, Wisc., and Dan (Lois) Gunderson of Chambersburg, Pa. He will be deeply missed by his family.
Joe Martinez Sr., 92, of Kalona, died Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at the Iowa City VA Hospital.
His body has been cremated and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Peterseim Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent: The University of Iowa Center for Advancement, Maria Cano-Martinez scholarship 30-014-075, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, IA 52242-4550