Former Glendale City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Manuel Martinez died in his home at age 93.
Martinez spent his life serving others — his family, his country and the community.
“I met Manny when I first got on the council and I looked to him as a mentor,” said Yvonne Knaack, former Glendale councilmember and vice mayor. “Over the course of eight years, we became very close friends, and he was a wonderful leader.”
Martinez was born in Redlands, California, to Esiquia Diaz and Santiago Martinez. They moved to Glendale and, little did Martinez know, it would change his life.
Martinez graduated from Glendale High School and was drafted into the Army. He served time in the Korean War and eventually was awarded a Bronze Star. When Martinez returned home from the war, he married Mary Jimenez, with whom he had four children.
After marrying Jimenez, he attended ASU on the GI Bill. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1963. He began his career working with West Valley farm laborers with the Arizona Department of Economic Security. He worked his way up to acting director position at DES.
After his 36-year career with DES, he became a Glendale councilmember and vice mayor. He represented the Cholla District and was reelected four times.
Martinez did his best to represent the citizens of Glendale by carefully reviewing issues brought to his attention and voting accordingly. Martinez, along with his staff, were key to bringing the Coyotes, Cardinals and Westgate to life.
Although Martinez was busy serving others, he found time to travel with his family to places like San Francisco, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, England, Italy and China. Martinez never let his age get the best of him. At age 81, he hiked the Great Wall of China with friends and family.
Martinez was predeceased by his father, mother and three younger brothers. He is survived by his wife; his four children, Helen Mendez, Cecilia Jasso, David Martinez and Manuel Martinez Jr.; 10 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
“I just want to make sure he’s recognized for what a wonderful person he was and a very intelligent, family man, and just a great friend and mentor,” Knaack said.