The love story of Patsy and Herman Martinez
Story by CLopez | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Linda Relyea for Alamosa Citizen
IT’S always Herman and Patsy, or Patsy and Herman. Rarely do you see or hear differently.
They met on the campus of Adams State in 1966, one of those memorable moments when a person catches your eye and you figure out a way to get them to notice you, too. It was that way with Patsy and Herman.
She was Patsy Valdez, a freshman from Antonito who had enrolled at Adams State to become a teacher. Herman Martinez was already a student and was working with the grounds crew when their eyes met and from virtually that moment on they were inseparable.
Herman figured out a way to turn the sprinklers toward the girl he saw, you know to flirt a little. Patsy was reciprocal, looking to catch Herman’s attention because honestly she couldn’t take her eyes off him.
“You’d find a way to come and talk to me, which was good. We ended up meeting and getting to know each other and it was all good,” she says now, 54 years into their marriage.
“It’s all part of one thing. Whatever we were doing, we did it together and we worked with each other. We respected each other and worked on the same projects and the same, whatever we were doing, dancing or putting the program together, we always did it together.”
– Patsy Martinez
THEIR love bloomed through mutual admiration for Mexican music and Folklorico dance. They bonded through El Parnaso, a student social club at the time, and two years into falling in love Herman proposed, on Patsy’s birthday, Dec. 25, 1968.
“About 1968, I told my parents I wanted to marry Patsy. They got ready and they put a letter together.”
Yes, a letter. It was common among Hispanic families of the era to have the parents of the would-be groom pen a letter and ask for the young woman’s hand in marriage on behalf of their son. If the would-be bride’s family rejected the idea, they sent pumpkins back as a symbol they declined.
“There were no calabazas, so things moved along pretty positively,” recalls Herman. Patsy smiles.
They were married on June 21, 1969, and shortly after moved to Pueblo, where their love for Mexican music and dance led them to form a youth Mexican Folk Dance group called Guadalupe Dancers. It was the beginning of what would be a lifelong devotion to elevating the Hispanic culture of their native San Luis Valley and southern Colorado through music, dance and storytelling.
“That got us going,” says Herman of how Mexican dance and culture has been synonymous with the two of them ever since. “When we had a chance to move to Alamosa, we came with that background and we wanted to keep going, so we brought it up at the college and it worked.”
In 1972 they were back in Alamosa and at Adams State, and together formed the student dance group Semillas de la Tierra. Patsy would sew the long colorful skirts and students wore sombreros purchased in Ciudad Juárez for the Semillas first exhibition. The popular dance class soon became part of the Adams State Music Department’s offerings, with introductory classes later added as course offerings by the P.E. Department.
Herman spent 11 years at Adams State, up until 1982, while Patsy taught bilingual education for 19 years with Alamosa Schools. They traveled with their four children and now 7 grandchildren, made family the center of their existence, and rarely have left each other’s side.
“It’s all part of one thing. Whatever we were doing, we did it together and we worked with each other,” Patsy says. “We respected each other and worked on the same projects and the same, whatever we were doing, dancing or putting the program together, we always did it together.”
“Another beautiful thing about it,” says Herman, “is we’ve had a lot of 50-year wedding anniversaries in our families, so that’s always been a motivator and a source of pride with our parents and siblings and us going on 54 this coming summer.”
He wishes he had kept the formal letter his father wrote to Patsy’s parents. With the summer not far away, he’s busy recreating the letter in time for their next anniversary.
Only this time he plans on reading it to her, himself.