By: Yolanda Martinez-Rodriguez (Picture- Eusebio playing accordian)
Eusebio Martinez born January 30, 1926, was a husband, a father, a musician and to many a good friend. Most important, Eusebio was a family man. Born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, to Pedro Martinez and Adela Miranda de Martinez, Eusebio lost his father at the age of 5 years old.
A High School graduate, Eusebio worked many jobs as he also taught himself to play various musical instruments. Although music was always his passion and one he learned to master, after living a life of poverty, where he saw his mother struggling to keep him and his siblings together,
Eusebio knew he had to make a better life for them and set his music aside. He also had his eyes on the love of his life Cruz Maria Santos, whose parents, Castulo Santos and Emilia Colon de Santos, were adamant of turning Eusebio away until he had a steady job and could provide for their daughter.
In 1951 Eusebio enlisted into the United States Armed Forces. He passed the physical and waited for their call.Since he had not heard from them, he decided to follow in his younger brother (Manuel Martinez) and cousin’s (Luis Martinez) footsteps, and traveled to the United States of America. In addition to my father, three of his close cousins decided to take this journey as well. Roberto Miranda Guzman, Mayor Miranda and Ramon Martinez all traveled to the states and came to North Tonawanda, New York where they worked for the New York Central Railroad changing the railroad ties. Out of the 40 employees at the time working on the railroad ties, approximately 20 were Hispanics. The cousins lived together in hotel rooms. With a small salary of $65.00 biweekly, Eusebio would still find money to send home to his mother.
Three months into working the railroads, Eusebio, his cousins and a good portion of the employees were layed-off of work. The timing was ideal, since he had just received a letter from the United States Armed Forces to report for duty. Eusebio traveled back to Puerto Rico In October of 1952 where he reported to Fort Buchanan Army Base. After Basic Training and before being shipped off to Korea, Eusebio asked Cruz Maria to marry him in April of 1953. They married days before he was sent off. November of 1954, after serving in the Korean War, Eusebio Martinez was honorably discharged due to contracting a lung disease. He earned numerous medals, including the Korean Service Medal with One Bronze Service Star and the National Defense Service Medal.
After his return to Puerto Rico, Eusebio and Cruz Maria started to raise a family. After the death of his mother and the changing economy, Eusebio decided to move his pregnant wife and children to Rochester, New York in the early 60’s. But their journey was met with a broken heart. Wilson their second born was being raised by Cruz’s parents at the time, and the young boy found it hard to separate himself from his grandparents. Although Eusebio struggled with leaving Wilson behind, he did not want to cause a rift between his in-laws and his wife. Eusebio journeyed to the states with his wife and two children, Abraham and Luz Selenia. They decided to leave Wilson with his grandparents with the intent of having Cruz’s parents travel later on to the states with their second born. Two of the children Cesar and Yolanda were later born in Rochester, New York. Eusebio, feeling that he found a better life in the states, made it his mission to help his extended family also come to the states. Eusebio helped both his and Cruz’s family settle into Rochester, New York. There was not a month that passed through-out the years where Eusebio was not working with family members in Puerto Rico to help them also make that journey to the states. The most important journey of all would be of his son Wilson and his in-laws.
Eusebio worked and continued to perform as a musician at various events and family gatherings through-out the years in Rochester. Eusebio was a well-known Hispanic Musician, who composed music and played the Guitar, Cuatro, and the Accordion. In his spare time between work and raising his family, Eusebio also served in the American Legion Corp of Rochester in the 70’s.
On Saturday, April 5, 2014, the day of my parent’s 61st anniversary, we lost our father and I lost part of my heart. My dad is now resting in heaven with God and his parents. Our father was a very caring and loving man and I could not have asked for a better dad. Although it was the most difficult experience of my life to watch my dad die, I also knew that he was not the same active man he once was and the last few years were very hard on him. He was the best father and friend a daughter could ever have and he was my hero.
Eusebio Martinez entered into rest, at the age of 88, beloved husband of Cruz Maria (nee Santos) Martinez; devoted father of Abraham (Pam) Martinez, Wilson (Myrna) Martinez, Luz Selenia (Russell) Fratello, Cesar J. (Peggy) Martinez, and Yolanda M. (Eugenio Jr.) Rodriguez; loving grandfather of Astrid Marie Martinez, David Martinez, Alexandra Martinez, Erica Gattuso, Natalie Ficarella, Timothy J. Rogers II, Emilia Miranda Rodriguez, Alejandro E. Rodriguez, Angelica Jacinta Fratello and Rebecca Loren Martinez; he also leaves behind 2 great-grandchildren, Andrew Smith and Aaliyah Renee Rogers; Also survived by a brother Manuel Martinez and a sister Berta Ortiz, many nieces, nephews and cousins.