Ophilia Cruz Martinez passed away three years ago but for those in the Richwood community, her contributions are still being felt.

“She did a lot for Richwood,” said Martinez’s sister, Eva Santos. “When she did something, she gave it her all.”

The Keep Richwood Beautiful Committee dedicated a bench Saturday at Bobby Ford Park in memory of Martinez for her years of service to both the committee and city. Residents and those touched by Martinez’s life were in attendance.

Martinez remained aware of the importance of volunteering and making a difference in other people’s lives, Santos said.

Whether as a charter member of the Freeport Boys Club, now known as the Freeport Boys and Girls Club, or teaching Catholic education at St. Mary’s and St. Henry’s Catholic churches in Freeport and St. Jerome’s in Clute, she remained active in many organizations.

Martinez also actively participated in the Freeport Little League, Clute Little League and Clute Teenage Baseball organizations. Later in her life, she volunteered on the Richwood Beautification Committee and the Habitat of Humanity of Southern Brazoria County board and taught English at the International Friends Club of the First Baptist Church in Lake Jackson. Martinez also taught classes in her own home when she saw a need.

She still fondly remembers her sister’s love of crafting and being an expert seamstress, Santos said.

“She and I were sewing buddies,” she said. “We used to sew a lot. We did it for years before she got sick.”

It feels like a real treasure to witness people turn out to honor Martinez’s legacy, said Pat Griffith, a member of the Keep Richwood Beautiful Committee.

“She was handicapped, but she never failed to keep up with the committee things that we had going on,” she said. “We are very grateful to have had her on the committee.”

Martinez had a certain personality to her that was contagious to anyone who met her, Griffith said.

“She was very dedicated, willing,” she said. “She was always there when you called on her and that was a great thing.”

The way she sees it, Martinez’s contributions to Richwood will shine bright for many more years to come, said Janet Jackson-Ellis, a member of the Keep Richwood Beautiful Committee.

“I am delighted that people remember all the things that she has done,” she said.

Martinez would help maintain Bobby Ford Park, including painting the bathroom areas, Jackson-Ellis said.

“Anytime we needed any painting done, she would do it,” she said. “She was just wonderful.”

Her spirit still lives in the community, said her husband, Anastacio “George” “Rocky” Martinez Jr.

“I know she is watching because I know she is in heaven,” he said. “She was a good lady. She was busy all the time and she got me involved. It feels good because all these people are friends and they knew her.”

Seeing the people who celebrated the ribbon-cutting of the bench and Martinez’s life is a bittersweet experience for her, Santos said.

“I am very, very proud of her,” she said. “I am just so sorry that she is not here.”

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.​

Features Writer/Reporter for The Facts in Clute, Texas. I'm a communications graduate from the University of Houston. I have written for publications such as the Washington Post and the Galveston County Daily News.

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