Diego Ivan Benjamin Martinez died on September 29, 2023, as a result of a motor vehicle collision. He was 19 years old and a sophomore engineering student at UTEP.
Diego’s family adopted the practice of calling him “D,” in part because in the 2000’s if you shouted “Diego” at a large group of kids, 19 of them would answer. He introduced himself to friends as “D.”
Diego was a firmly grounded, remarkably well-adjusted young man. He was determined to study architectural engineering at UT Austin this year as part of its admissions program for second-year college students. He was devastated when he learned that although he was admitted to UT, he was not admitted to its school of engineering. Because of his interest in engineering, he did not want to change majors. He was deeply frustrated and disappointed for a short time, but after consulting with friends and advisors, he changed course and decided to study engineering at UTEP. He was not embittered, and he was not angry. He adjusted and was proud to be a Miner. He was also ambitious. D recently interviewed with potential employers for an engineering summer internship. His family learned shortly after his death that he secured one with the national firm McCarthy Construction.
D exuded an infectious joy for his entire life, and he had a bright, sunny disposition. He was not embarrassed to be his true self. He danced like no one was watching and loved without hesitation. He touched many lives.
D had a passion for basketball. He was proud to be the starting point guard for two years and a team captain his senior year at Coronado High School, even though he stood all of 5’9”. He was not the most gifted basketball player, but he was a good athlete and a leader, and he made good decisions, both on and off the court.
After high school, Diego remained active in basketball circles. He became a referee in several youth leagues at the YMCA and local basketball gyms. He was even the head coach of a team of five-year-olds at the Y, and he frequently commented about how adorable his young players were. He loved basketball so much that in his first year at UTEP, he organized an intramural basketball team. He contacted some of the best players from other teams that he played against in high school who stayed in El Paso and attended UTEP and asked them to join the team. They were spectacular. Their shooting guard is 6’3” and recently turned down a minor league contract in Mexico. Diego, of course, was the point guard. They frequently played teams that were composed of much older and taller players, but they still won the league championship. It was Diego’s team. He organized it and named it. The team’s name: “2SHORT4D3.”
That was D every day of the week. Self-aware, witty and irrepressibly joyful.
Diego is survived by his parents, Carmen Tellez and James A. Martinez; four brothers whom he loved deeply, Joshua David Lopez, Joel Isaac Martinez, Percy Martinez and Joaquin James Francisco Martinez; a large extended family and many, many friends, including honorary pallbearers Pedro Emiliano Tarango, Diego Ortiz, James N. Welsh, Jr., Stephen Edward Pitchkolan and Sebastian Zepeda-Waissman.
A Visitation will take place from 4:00 to 8:00 pm, Thursday, October 12, 2023, at St. Luke Catholic Church, 930 E. Redd Rd., El Paso, TX 79912, with a Rosary at 6:00 pm. A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Luke Catholic Church at 10:30 am on Saturday, October 14, 2023. A Graveside Service will follow at 11:45 am at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Those who cannot attend in person may join the funeral and memorial services virtually on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/sunsetfuneralhome/ (no account is needed).
White or vibrantly colored attire is encouraged. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to a memorial to be created at UTEP. https://givingto.utep.edu/DiegoMartinez
Services entrusted to Sunset Funeral Home- West.