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Daniel Martínez

Longtime teacher, enthusiastic scholar, loving father

On Friday, January 25, 2013, nearly 20 years after his first diagnosis, Daniel Martínez lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was 84.

Mr. Martínez was born November 20, 1928 in Claremont to Daniel Fernández Martínez and Nieves Guadalupe Miranda Martínez, who came to the United States from Mexico as youngsters.

The third of 10 children, he began his education in a segregated school in Ontario, California. As a child, he sang and danced professionally with his brothers and sisters, performing folklóricos with the Padua Hills Players. In Mr. Martínez’ teen years, his father became ill, so he went to work to help support the family. Each year, he and his siblings traveled across California following the harvest as migrants, often missing weeks of school. Despite this, Mr. Martínez excelled academically, and lettered in track and field at Claremont High School. 

With a scholarship from a local philanthropist, Mr. Martínez attended Chaffey College, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. He went on to Claremont Graduate University, where he earned a master’s degree and a teaching credential. His 1958 master’s thesis on the Bracero Program has been widely studied and in 2009 was recognized as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent history archive.

A passionate scholar and inspired mentor, Mr. Martínez taught for 37 years at schools including Claremont High, Riverside Poly and San Bernardino Valley College as well as at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, where he headed the Foreign Language Department from 1956 to 1987. Besides Spanish, he taught driver’s education and photography, officiated in basketball and coached track and field. An active member of the Pacific Coast Council of Latin American Studies, Mr. Martínez was part of President John F. Kennedy’s NDEA “Sputnik” teacher’s workshops at the University of Kansas in 1961.

Mr. Martínez married his sweetheart, Barbara Dawrs, a Pomona College graduate, in 1955. With a shared love of learning and commitment to service, Mr. and Mrs. Martínez traveled extensively, including a 1985 sabbatical in Madrid, Spain. As active members of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, the Arrowhead Arts Council, the Democratic Party and other groups, the Martínez family shared their gifts and talents across the community. Mr. Martínez was a multi-talented individual. He was an accomplished artist—a gifted photographer, painter and wood carver whose work is part of private and public collections. He was also a dedicated husband and a loving father, grandfather, uncle, cousin and friend.

“He leaves a legacy of countless students, colleagues and friends whose lives were touched by his larger-than-life spirit, his zest for learning and his joyful approach to each day, always accompanied by a song,” family shared.

As a child, Mr. Martínez suffered from Bell’s Palsy, with a resulting facial paralysis that left him with his signature “crooked” smile. Having been different as a child, he had a special appreciation for kids who had trouble fitting in, and was always a champion of those who struggle to overcome life’s obstacles. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and by his younger sisters, Pascualita Martínez and Christina Gonzalez Perez. Mr. Martínez is survived by his wife Barbara, better known as “Bobbie”; by his children, Elizabeth, Lee Anne, Michele, Daniel (Lissa), Reneé and Paul (Lisa); by his grandchildren, Mariam “Mimi” and Isabel Diawara, Javier Martínez, and Cara and Mia Martínez; by his siblings, Eusevia “Cheva” García, Gene “Queño” (Dolores), Isabel (Joe) Alba, Patrocinio (Beth Ann), Veronica “Lupita” Bone (Gordon) Curtis, Marciano (Mercedes) and Richard Martínez. He also leaves 45 nieces and nephews and their families and numerous cousins, including his good friend and cousin, Dr. Peter Armendárez, a nuclear physicist who inspired Mr. Martínez in his passion for higher education.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 9 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, 27627 Rim of the World Dr. in Lake Arrowhead.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Rim of the World Community Scholarship Council, PO Box 1816, Blue Jay, CA 92317. Checks should be noted “In memory of Daniel Martínez.”

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