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RIP, Dario Martinez Longtime judge was old school

Longtime municipal judge and justice of the peace Dario Martinez died this Tuesday morning following a lengthy illness. Like so many good friends now gone before, he’s going to be missed. The thing about Dario and other people of his generation, born in the 1930s and the depths of the Depression, they were and are a tough breed. I don’t remember when I first met Dario, but he stood out in a crowd. Well groomed; well dressed; a throwback to his days of owning and managing one of the few clothing stores in downtown Mission, his hometown. That store, by the way, Mission Dry Goods was founded by Dario’s dad Joaquin in 1924. It ultimately closed for business in 1988. By the way, if I get any facts here wrong, my apologies to friends and family. I’m working from memory. Dario (Dah-Ree-o) was also a newspaper guy. He worked on one in college, if I remember correctly, and then he got to know how print advertising worked while owning his store. He grew up during a time of semi-segregation, although it was mitigated because his dad owned the only Hispanic-owned store in the Anglo part of Mission. If I’m not mistaken, his dad was also the first Hispanic on either the Mission school board or city commission. Hence, Dario got hit with the political bug. One of my favorite political anecdotes of his involved some local PSJA school board race many years ago. I think this was while he was on the school board during an election. He was at a political rally and held out his hand to an opponent, who promptly said in front of the gathered crowd, “I don’t shake hands with an (insert profane word that starts with an A).” Without a skipped blink, Dario said, “Well, I do,” and grabbed the guy’s hand and shook it. I asked him what the guy did next, but can’t remember. The thing about Dario is that he could rub some people the wrong way, but in my opinion, it was for the right reasons: bluntness and honesty. Most people don’t really want to tell people what they really think of them. Dario had no qualms about doing just that. If more people spoke up and said what was on their minds, no matter who they might offend, the world would probably be a better place. I knew Dario’s time was drawing near. He was in a lot of ...

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