Ernesto "Neto" Martinez

December 23, 1942 ~ November 1, 2020 (age 77)

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 Ernesto “Neto” Martinez, of Lake Zurich, IL completed his earthly journey and entered eternal life on Sunday morning, November 1, 2020 at his home. Ernie was born on December 23, 1942 in Big Wells, TX, the son of Augustin T. and Maria Del Refugio Martinez. He is survived by his wife and best friend of 52 years, Stephanie. 

Ernie was a proud veteran of the United States Army, training at Fort Leonard Wood as a combat engineer and serving in Korea. With a lifelong work ethic, he became a highly skilled welder/fabricator who could always be relied on to do the job right, rarely missing a day of work. 

Settling in Lake Zurich, this Texan learned to embrace the Midwest seasons and to be outdoors enjoying nature; hiking, biking and fishing the beautiful trails and forest preserves of Lake and McHenry counties and the Galena area. A jack-of-all-trades, he could fix or build anything and was always eager to help a friend or neighbor in need. A terrific cook and pit master, he grilled the best ribs and arracheras around; and at Christmas, his favorite: tamales. He loved a good hike after a snowstorm, tracking wildlife and birding. A lawn chair astronomer, he was always in awe of God’s creation when searching the sky through the lens of his telescope. Ernie also liked to set off on an adventure with his metal detector to find buried “treasure.” Each day he enjoyed grabbing his binoculars to watch the birds and wildlife in the backyard, or tend to the garden, use his slingshot to hit a target, or just sit quietly and play his guitar. Loving God’s word and the wisdom of the Proverbs he would always recite one before day’s end.  

Ernie looked most forward to road trips, enjoying the drive west to travel Old Rte. 66, to see the beauty and splendor of this country, on route to visit family in Arizona, California and Montana; or south, making the trip back to Texas to his hometown, Big Wells, often stopping in Missouri to visit the base and museum at Fort Leonard Wood. He never tired of being “On The Road Again” and he started each trip playing Willie’s song. His last trip back to Texas in September was via air, arranged by dear friend and companion, Diana, for whom family extends their heartfelt gratitude.

Ernie is survived and dearly missed by his loving wife Stephanie (nee Shideler); children, Christina Trevino, Carlos Martinez and Yvette (Brad) Tomlinson-Diericx; grandchildren, Valerie, Rey, Cruz, Christian, Nicholas, Cameron Anne, Luke, and Shane; and great-grandchildren, Danika, Allison, Jace, Ulexus Rose, Emily, Emma and Grace.  

He is further survived by his brothers: Mace, Augustin, Jr. (Louisa), Perfecto (Ofelia) and Oscar (Elda); brothers-in-law: Richard (Mary) and Gary (Karin); sisters-in-law: Deborah, Rebecca and Wilona (Jim); fond and loving uncle “Tio Neto” of many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews.  

He was preceded in death by his parents, Augustin T. Martinez and Maria del Refugio; brother, Rogelio; Sisters-in-law, Gloria and Soyla and precious grandson, Kyle Benjamin Diericx. 

Ernie cherished every moment he spent with his children, grandchildren, friends and lifelong friends Art and Bob. The unity and fellowship of his church family and their prayers and encouragement were such a blessing to him as he courageously fought his battled with cancer. He was so grateful to his doctors and nurses entrusted with his care. In following with his wishes, a celebration of Ernie’s life memorial will be scheduled at a later date. Interment will be private. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donation may be directed to St. Jude’s children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105 or by visiting

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