Benjamin R. Martinez, of Lebanon, died Thursday, July 16, 2020. He was predeceased by his first wife of 53 years, Amparo Martinez Fernandez who passed away in 2006.
Benjamin was born in Castrobarto, Spain on September 11, 1930 and raised in Havana, Cuba. His father owned a successful hardware store, and, at a very early age, Ben helped his father at the store, even when he needed a stool to reach the cash register. He attended Los Escolapios, a day school run by Jesuit priests. He received many awards and top honors during his school years and excelled in all his academic pursuits. He graduated with a degree in Electrical and Chemical Engineering from the University of Havana and was issued his Professional Engineer certification by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1976.
In 1953, Ben married Amparo Fernandez Foyo and, by 1960, they had two children (Ben Jr. and Ana) and were expecting a third (Mary Ellen). This was a very beautiful and prosperous time in Cuba, the family hardware business was thriving, and the young couple had a very comfortable life.
However, these were uncertain times in Cuba as well. Fidel Castro soon overthrew the government, declared Cuba to be Communist, and, like many others, Ben and Amparo decided to flee with their family to the United States. They left Cuba in 1961, as a young family and Amparo pregnant with Mary Ellen.
They originally stayed with friends in Miami but soon moved to Queens, NY where Mary Ellen was born and where they lived for several years in a small apartment. With his degree in Engineering, Ben quickly landed a job as a field service representative for Buell Envirotech Corporation, who transferred him to Lebanon, PA in 1964. They raised their family in Lebanon, where Ben continued to advance at Buell, receiving his Professional Engineering degree and eventual promotion to Regional Manager of Latin American Operations.
In 1964, Ben and Amparo became U.S. citizens and the family made America their permanent home. Ben had an over 30-year career at Buell Envirotech, which later became a division of General Electric. He traveled extensively throughout Latin America as their lead representative and senior project manager.
He retired in 1990 to enjoy life with his wife Amparo. Both were avid sports fans and enjoyed season tickets to Penn State football games. They traveled extensively, formed incredible memories, and visited their children and grandchildren as much as possible. Family was important to Ben and he gleamed with pride when everyone was together.
In 2007, Ben married Antonia (Toni) Deraco. They shared a love of cooking, music, and dance. They were parishioners at Saint Benedictine Church in Lebanon where they volunteered in church ministries and activities. Ben even played the role of Pontius Pilate during their Easter Passion play.
We remember Ben as an intelligent, hard-working man with a genuine devotion to God, a strong work ethic, and a passion for everything he did. He was a devoted family man who greatly enjoyed time with his three children, five grandchildren, two great-granddaughters and all his stepchildren. He also enjoyed traveling, exploring local cultures and cuisine. Ben was enthusiastic and had an abundance of energy that became his trademark. He had a passion for getting things done and the stamina to do them.
He will always be remembered, and his legacy will live on and on.
Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, July 20, 2020 at St. Benedict’s Church, 1300 Lehman St., Lebanon, PA 17046. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ben’s name may be made to St. Benedict the Abbot Church at the above address. Thompson Funeral Home, Inc. is entrusted with the arrangements. Please share your memories with the family at our online guest book at thompsonfuneralhomelebanon.com