Namesake’s life efforts help push minority youths to greater heights

Reynaldo Leroy Martinez is proof that the most humble of beginnings can launch successful careers.

The former political consultant, senior adviser and chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid is the namesake of Martinez Elementary School, 350 Judson Ave., and the Martinez Child Development Center, 2901 Harris Ave.

The school, which is home to many minorities, was named for Martinez in the hopes that he will inspire a generation of youths to succeed no matter what their circumstances.

“He always motivated us to do the best we could do for the kids with the highest needs,” said Patricia Hodges, former principal of the school. “He really cares for the community and has always made it a point to teach kids that it doesn’t matter who you are. If you do your best, you can succeed.”

Martinez was the oldest of five children born to Reynaldo L. Martinez and Helen Martinez on June 22, 1937, in Chama, N.M.

The family packed their belongings to pursue sheepherding and moved to Reno, where Martinez attended kindergarten.

After the town of Henderson first emerged in the 1940s during World War II, the Martinez family moved to Southern Nevada and settled in Henderson. It was there that Martinez grew to adulthood.

He graduated from Basic High School, where he was a student athlete and elected student body president in 1956.

Martinez went on to attend Boise Junior College in Idaho, where he received his associate of art degree and then transferred to Arizona State University, where received his bachelor’s degree in education.

He found himself at a crossroads when his talent as a baseball pitcher earned him an athletic scholarship to college and the interest of a scout for the American League’s Washington Senators.

“When he was a junior and I was a sophmore, we played and won the Nevada state championships,” Reid said. “I honestly didn’t play much, but Rey was the king. He had a great left-handed pitch. He was so good.”

In the beginning of his adult life, Martinez dipped his toes in sports and education, and while those careers didn’t last long, he was recognized as an outstanding baseball coach in Nevada after he coached two state high school championship teams and as an outstanding educator in Clark County for his time teaching at Western High School.

He served in the United States Naval Reserve active duty between 1962 and 1964 and was honorably discharged.

Martinez’s political career started in 1968, when he was selected to join the staff of the Nevada Education Association. He served as the organizational, political and legislative consultant to the association until 1982.

“I remember during a visit to Colorado, a gentleman looked at me and said, ‘The only place I ever saw Mexicans was picking melons. I’ve never seen a Mexican at this level,’ ” Martinez said. “I was shocked.”

Despite such remarks, during his time there, Martinez was instrumental in the passage of three legislative benchmarks, including the Bilingual Education Act in 1968, the granting of cabinet status to the Department of Education in 1980 and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, which was sent to the states for ratification.

He then moved on to manage Reid’s congressional and senatorial campaigns. Reid was his former classmate at Basic High School. Martinez subsequently served as Reid’s chief of staff and was distinguished as the sole Hispanic chief of staff on Capitol Hill for 12 years.

“When I became chief of staff, I made sure I had Latino interns,” Martinez said. “Young Latinos had no chance of going to Washington when I got there. I received great gratification being able to mentor people and provide them with opportunities that seemed impossible.”

Martinez retired from government service in 1999.

Martinez Elementary School and the Martinez Child Development Center were dedicated in his name in 2000.

“The school was chosen to bear his name to instill the importance of a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and service to the community, the nation and the world,” stated the dedication.

“I had no idea they wanted to name a school after me. I always thought that honor was reserved for people who were bigshots in Las Vegas, like Wynn,” Martinez said. “The only request I made was that if my name was going to be used, the school should be in an area where there is a large Latino community.”

Martinez continues to visit the school and inspire a generation of students as often as he can.

“The most important advice I give students is to find out who you are and be true to yourself,” Martinez said. “Once you grab hold of who you are, you can change the world.”

Among his many accomplishments, he was named the outstanding Hispanic of the Year by both the Latin Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Club of Las Vegas. He also served as an adviser to Lt. Gov. Bob Miller, U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, state Supreme Court Justice Bob Rose and Gov. Mike O’Callaghan.

“Rey is a wonderful human being,” Reid said. “Naming a school after him is important to the Hispanic community. Here is a young man who came from hard-working parents and made his way in life. He is a great motivator for young people.”

Martinez is married and has two sons. He lives in Incline Village, near where his father started as a sheepherder.

During the last 10 years, he has kept himself occupied by writing an autobiography, which he hopes to release in the near future.

“He was always very caring and knowledgeable,” school principal Tim Adams said. “He worked very hard in life to get to where he is, and he really cares about the Latino community and their needs. He continues to stay fully active in Las Vegas and tries to visit the school whenever he can. I think a lot of our students are motivated by him.”

To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.

Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like