Antonio (Tony) Gilberto Martinez, 91, of Walsenburg, CO passed away on December 11, 2015 in Arvada, Colorado. Tony was a sixth generation rancher, husband, father, and a friend to many. Tony was one of six children born to Juan Andres and Maria Martha Archuleta Martinez on the family ranch in Badito, Colorado. He was born on January 1, 1924. As soon as the children were capable, they learned to work and contribute to the overall functioning of the family ranch on the Huerfano River. After the early morning chores were done, it was heading off to a one-room schoolhouse on horseback to learn the three R’s and to face the daily challenge of learning the English language. At age nine, he was given the responsibility of plowing fields with a team of draft horses. He got bumped off the driver’s seat, landing very close to the sharp implements. Thinking quickly, he was able to shout a command to the horses to halt, narrowly escaping serious injury or death. Tony understood at this young age the importance of strong horsmanship skills and continued to hone these skills over a lifetime. Many stories illustrate how strong , self-reliant, and ambitious Tony was. As a young boy, he milked cows and sold the surplus milk to purchase his first bicycle and thus began his career as a prosperous rancher and
businessman. Tony’s goal of graduating from high school was not an easy endeavor due to transportation issues. When the school bus no longer picked up schoolchildren near the ranch, Tony took it upon himself to stay at an abandoned gas station where the bus did pick up the students. He did not have electricity, heat or running water. He went to school during the week and returned to the ranch on week-ends to keep up with his share of the chores on the ranch. He graduated from Huerfano County High school in 1942 and the next September married his beloved Ernestine Salazar in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Gardner, Colorado. With his wife’s wisdom, foresight, and homemaking skills, they worked as a team to raise their three daughters and build their family business. There wasn’t a night that went by that Tony was not on his knees in prayer asking for guidance and expressing his thankfulness. In addition to ranching, Tony operated the Martinez Grocery store on South Main Street in Walsenburg. He sold and delivered groceries to the early miners and residents in the area and some will remember Tony as their school bus driver at Walsenburg High School. Tony was active in civic and church affairs and was a member of several agricultural groups, including Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Upper Huerfano Soil Conservation District. With his knowledge of ranching and use of conservation practices, he made tremendous progress in improving his Bear Creek ranch. In 1986, he was named Conservationist of the Year. In later years, he and Ernestine traveled abroad and enjoyed many family outings and gatherings. He loved nature and was always in awe of God’s perfect creations. Tony is survived by his three daughters, Patricia Neeman (David) of Westminster, Cathy Pavlick (Gerald) of Billings, Montana, and Martha Duran of Westminster, Colorado; five grandchildren; ten great-grandchidren; sisters Della Velarde of Walsenburg and Rachel Cordova of Tustin, California; brother, Frank Martinez of Albuquerque, NM; and numerous nieces and nephews. Services were on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 10:30 am at St. Mary Catholic Church in Walsenburg, Colorado.