SAN JOSE -- Firefighters, friends and family are mourning the death of Capt. Jose Manuel Martinez, who succumbed to a rare and aggressive cancer last Friday less than two months after his diagnosis and 17 days after he became a father to twin girls. He was 41.
Martinez, also known as "Pepe," joined the San Jose Fire Department in 2001, working first as a firefighter, then a fire engineer before being promoted to captain last year.
"Jose served the residents of this great city with honor and pride," stated a fire department news release. "Every day he treated the people around him with respect and kindness, and he took great pride in helping others in their time of need."
Before coming to San Jose, Martinez started his fire career with the California Department of Forestry at age 26.
He was born in Tulare, and graduated from high school there, where he played football and wrestled. He then attended Cal State Fresno, attaining a degree in health science. He was known working numerous jobs while in school, and sending money to his parents.
During his college years, he met his wife, Melissa, while working at the campus bookstore in 1992. They married in 2001 and have three children: Jonah Miguel, 8, and twin girls Sophia Maria and Olivia Eleanor, who were just born on July 24. He was hospitalized on June 6, and diagnosed on June 19 with synovial sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue tumor. His last shift at Fire Station 12 in South San Jose was
Martinez will be honored at a funeral service at 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 355 E. Champlain Drive in Fresno. A large group of San Jose firefighters will attend for a Class 1 service, reserved for a line-of-duty death.
Cancer deaths are presumed to be job-related for firefighters because of their exposure to smoke and chemicals on a day-to-day basis, according to fire officials.
The service will be followed by internment at the Clovis Cemetery.
A vigil will also be held at the church at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.