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.

Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with RJ
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Otting oversees all national banks, credit unions, mutual savings banks, coops and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Paris Wade discusses about his “Liberty Writers” website
Paris Wade, who made national headlines for operating a fake news website and boasts about getting President Donald Trump elected in 2016, speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Wade is running for Nevada Assembly. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers.
Las Vegas Metro police and Henderson police officers ride their bikes during the Vegas Team's last practice rides in preparation for the Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal @bizutesfaye
UNLV students walk out of class on national walkout day
UNLV students and supporters chanted, marched and rallied on national walkout day Friday, April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Captain Sasha Larkin Discusses Challenges, Progress in North West
Captain Sasha Larkin, of Metro's Northwest Area Command, discusses what issues face the northwest valley's residents and what police are doing to address them.
Southwest giving passengers on deadly flight $5,000 for compensation
Passengers on Flight 1380 have been receiving checks as a gesture of goodwill from the airline.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Artist, Community Paint Winchester Skate Park
Andrew Schoultz, a Los Angeles-based artist with an upcoming exhibit at UNLV's Barrick Museum, painted the skate park at Winchester Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
David Copperfield executive producer testifies during the magician's civil trial
A British tourist is suing illusionist David Copperfield saying he was injured during a trick. Chris Kenner, executive producer for illusionist David Copperfield, was on the witness stand all day Tuesday, April 17. Kenner testified that a business manager for the show talked to the man after he fell. Kenner testified that the tourist, Gavin Cox, said he was OK moments after the fall. Cox later told the crew: “Maybe I will have this looked at.” Copperfield is the next witness in line for Cox’s attorneys. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
CCSD Teacher Is a Living Organ Donor
June Monroe speaks about her kidney donation to her brother and advocacy work with the National Kidney Foundation.
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest. Teachers are upset over many things, including the fact that the district is fighting an arbitration ruling for pay raises. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Clark County commissioners debate getting rid of Henderson, North Las Vegas constables
Clark County commissioners are debating whether to get rid of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables after RJ's story pointing out questionable spending by the Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York, which had 143 passengers and a crew of five onboard, landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. According to NBC10, a female passenger was partially sucked out of a broken window, which was a result of the plane's engine ripping apart. It's not known if the female passenger was the one who died. Emergency personnel met the battered plane upon its landing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the blown engine resulted in a smashed window and a damaged fuselage. Southwest Airlines The FAA said that the NTSB will lead the investigation into what happened.
Single vehicle crash kills man
A man died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in northeast Las Vegas. The crash occurred Tuesday morning on the 1900 block of Pasadena Boulevard, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Mt. Hood Street. Police had few details, but Metro's fatal detail was on the scene investigating.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide (update)
Update from LVMPD on Sunset Park homicide. Releasing suspect's name (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide
Police give details about Sunset Park homicide on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (Blake Apgar)
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
Endangered Devils Hole Pupfish numbers enough for concern, but not panic
Researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Death Valley National Park came together at Devils Hole, about 90 miles west of Las Vegas, for a biannual count of the Devils Hole Pupfish, an endangered species. Their count this time – 87. (Video by Patrick Connolly)
Hickey Elementary Students Put Harry Potter on Trial
Liliam Lujan Hickey Elementary School students learned how the judicial system works by putting Harry Potter on trial for the illegal use of magic.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
The Clark County Museum Turns 50 This Month
The Clark County Museum has an extensive collection, dating back to prehistoric times in Southern Nevada up through the present day. It was first established in April 1968 and has had several locations before it's current home on South Boulder Highway.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like