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On Monday, January 1, 2024, God called His son Martin Melendez Ortiz (81) to join Him in heaven, where he was welcomed by his father, Agustin, his mother, Benita, his brothers, Francisco and Raul, his infant son, Martin II and many of other ancestors who went before.
Martin was born on July 30, 1942, to Agustin and Benita (Ortiz) Melendez in Salinas, PR; he was one of seven children: Jose Antonio, Andre, Vigenmina, Carmen, Raul, and Francisco, who were separated when tragedy struck and took his parents away at the tender age of six and was raised in Puerto Rico’s foster care system. Despite the separation of the siblings, they always found their way back to each other and had a robust family connection.
Martin, being a resilient person, forged through life, making the best of every situation. He was a Boys Scout for many years in Ponce’s Troop 131. There, he learned survival skills, which he honed by becoming an avid fisherman and hunter, mastering rifle and bow skills. Having the gift of being able to figure out how things work, he went to Ponce Vocational High School to learn how to apply his skills best and then later graduated as an Auto Mechanic in 1959. While at school, he met his best friend and the girl of his dreams. She was taking a sewing class, and he would fix her sewing machine when it acted up. Their friendship then blossomed into love.
After High School, at the age of 17, he moved to Massachusetts with his oldest sister, Vigenmina, and set forward a path to live the American dream, but he never forgot his love. They would correspond throughout the years and worked numerous jobs until he could save enough money to purchase an engagement ring to ask her to marry him. He wanted to make sure he could provide for her and the family he wanted to create with her. On August 9, 1968, Martin and Bienvenida (Rodriguez Lagares) were married before God. Not long after, he welcomed his first child, Lorraine (‘69), followed by Martin II (’74) and Martin Jr. (’77). For 54 years, he stood by his wife's side through richer and poorer times, watching his family grow and expand to three generations. His kids (los chechos) meant everything to him. He rolled on the floor and played and tickled them, taught them all how to ride bicycles, and taught them the importance of hard work. He made them laugh with his corny dad jokes and sang sweet, nonsensical songs to every baby born in the family “Piqui, pique, piqui pa, ese checho de papa”; he cured every cough with cod liver oil and Vicks. He was the consummate weatherman, making sure each kid had an extra clothing layer no matter the weather: “Ponte el sweater.” He witnessed his children get married. Lorraine married Efrain Nietos and has two children, Briana and Efrain Miguel (Laura), and two great-grandchildren, Jaxson and Jade Reaves. Their son Martin Jr. is married to Mary Luz (Cruz). He has three children, Dominique (Danny) Arroyo, Martin III, and Mariana, and his three great-grandchildren Javier, Julian, and Julissa Arroyo.
Eventually, Martin made his way to the Jersey shore in 1972, settling in Trenton, and then later moved to Ewing, residing there for the past 19 years. He has worked in various industries; however, before his retirement in 2006, he was employed at the Trenton Board of Education for 10 years.
He leaves behind many nieces and nephews, Godchildren, and the many friends he made along his journey through life. He was caring, loving, loyal, generous, and the best husband, dad, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He will be missed by all.
Catholic funeral services will be held Monday, January 8, 2024 at 12:00 PM at the Hamilton Brenna-Cellini Funeral Home, 2365 Whitehorse-Mercerville Rd., Hamilton, NJ 08619. Family and friends may pay their respects Monday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the funeral home. Burial will be in Ewing Cemetery, Ewing, NJ. Please visit Martin's tribute page at www.brennacellinifuneralhomes.com