Obit: John A. Martinek (1919 - 2013)
- FORT WORTH - John A. Martinek, 93, a former tanker in Patton's 3rd Army, died Friday, March 22, 2013, passing quietly at a care center after a recent bout with cancer.
Funeral: 2 p.m. Monday at Altamesa Church of Christ, 4600 Altamesa Blvd., Fort Worth. Interment with honors will follow in Pleasant Point Cemetery, Lillian. Visitation: One hour before the funeral.
Born Aug. 25, 1919, in Greensburg, Pa., John was the youngest of four children and raised to a large degree by a single mother after his father died prematurely. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1941 and was sent packing to Camp Bowie in Brownwood for training. Except for his service during World War II, he lived out the rest of his days as a Texan. He became a mechanic in the 4th Armored Division, landing in France in July 1944. He fought with the 4th Armored through Normandy, northern France, the Battle of the Bulge, Germany and ended the war in Czechoslovakia; the very country his parents had immigrated from. A time or two, he caught a glimpse of Gen. George S. Patton, a memory he never forgot.
After the war, he moved to Fort Worth to marry a girl he met before going overseas. Her name was Velma Grace Martinek. They had more than 47 years of marriage until she died Nov. 5, 1992. Mr. Martinek owned and operated a small business repairing televisions. He loved to spend his free time fishing area lakes.
In April 2008, his modest and uninsured house burned to the ground. He was taken in by a neighborhood woman named Lidia Perez, who shared with him what she had for several months. The Star-Telegram profiled them that summer and announced they were having a garage sale to buy him a new bed and clothes. The first day of the garage sale raised thousands of dollars. People from all over North Texas, even long-haul truck drivers who heard about it, stopped to donate to help Mr. Martinek that weekend. When it was over, Mr. Martinek had a pledge from Cheldan Homes to build him a new home on the exact spot he had lived since returning from war. The house was dedicated that December. He lived out the rest of his days there, surrounded by neighbors and friends who cooked for him, protected him, took walks with him, celebrated his birthdays and allowed him to live in honor and dignity.
For three seasons in the summer, fall and winter of 2008, Mr. Martinek was surrounded by the love, generosity and respect of thousands of people in North Texas. He never forgot it, and that love and generosity sustained him in the last years of his life.
Survivors: Mr. Martinek is survived by a niece, Barbara Stiner; the family of his heart, Lidia Perez, Terri and Mike Miller, Debbra Ledbetter, Claudia Aleman; and countless others who will never be forgotten.
Published in Star-Telegram on March 24, 2013
Submitter's Comments: I remember the press coverage of this fellow in 2008. There was a large outpouring of donations to help him continue with his life. If I am remembering correctly, John used his Czech language skills while in Czechoslovakia with Gen. Patton's Armored Division near the end of World War II. this obituary is particularly well-written. - Mike Hejl
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