Jon Christian Martinez — known as Jon Jon — loved Dr Pepper, the Sesame Street character Elmo and trips to McDonald’s.
The son of a veteran Bryan police officer, the 22-year-old also liked watching TV with his father and being driven around the family ranchland to help feed the animals. He could always be counted on to bring a smile to friends and family.
“We were blessed at birth to have this beautiful child,” said Angel Martinez Jr., Jon Jon’s dad and a Bryan police officer of more than 30 years. “This kid was just the most awesome, selfless kid. He didn’t know a stranger.”
Earlier this month, Jon Jon choked while eating and suffered oxygen depletion that resulted in serious brain damage. On Wednesday, he was removed from life support. After Jon Jon slipped away, surrounded by people who loved him, his organs were donated for life-saving efforts for others.
“Even in death he was able to provide,” Angel Martinez said. “We don’t know why things happen. And we wish we had one more day, [but] he went when it was time.”
Jon Jon’s organs already have been transplanted into four different people, his father said, and an anticipated 70 or more additional patients could potentially benefit from Jon Jon’s gift.
He was born Feb. 7, 1998, in Bryan. He lived with special needs, including a form of autism, that affected some of his mental faculties, and he required extra care. For most of Jon Jon’s life, his father was a single father, often working hard to balance his job as an officer with the time required to help Jon Jon.
“Every moment he wasn’t working, he was with Jon Jon taking care of him,” said Dale Cuthbertson, a retired Bryan police officer who originally hired Angel Martinez to the department in March 1990.
With the help of other family members, home health care assistants — and in more recent years the love of Jon Jon’s new stepmom, Geri Martinez — Angel Martinez was able to give his son a life filled with happy moments.
For the senior Martinez, there were particular words that he was earnest for his son to remember — those of the Lord’s Prayer. Jon Jon would praise God in his own way, Angel Martinez said, overemphasizing certain words and often starting the prayer by saying “Our Father, what happened?”
“We had our little routine, and because he had some autistic tendencies, we learned he had to have a controlled routine in order to let him not feel frustrated with environments,” Angel Martinez said. “We prayed nightly, and I worried he didn’t understand Jesus. [But] I think he did. When we had our nightly prayers, he would always do the ‘Our father’ line, and... I’m sure because of his repetition he could memorize the words of the prayer, and maybe he just couldn’t speak all of it.”
Services for Jon Jon were Sunday at Central Church in College Station. Burial will be in College Station Memorial Cemetery.
The Thin Blue Line Foundation is raising funds for the Martinez family, and donations can be made at www.facebook.com/BVTBLFoundation.