Family recalls loving son, forever 16 in their minds

What you want to do is reach into that school portrait and push his hair off his forehead, maybe tuck that cascade of brown behind his ears or even (he wouldn’t have wanted to hear this) trim it.

That’s the adult impulse, the tidying one, but he was 16. And he liked his hair that way.

So, there he was Wednesday morning, a face in a portrait at the front of the church, smiling a friendly smile, forever 16.

He was Troy Dean Martinez, and he died Sept. 1. He was shot in the chest. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department ruled his death a homicide and is investigating. No arrests have been made.

What is there to say, then, about a 16-year-old boy with floppy hair?

That he loved skateboarding and spent a lot of time at the skate park near Central High School, where he was a sophomore.

That he often drew instead of doing his science homework.

That he was a Boy Scout, Troop 345.

That he once, with a friend, thought it would be an excellent idea to put paint balls in a sling shot and let them fly around his neighborhood. It took them a week to clean up the mess after they got caught.

That he was known for wearing a purple bandanna around his head.

That one time, in group therapy, he sat down next to a friend having a bad day, poked her in the ribs and said, “So, what’s wrong, Chicken Little?”

That he doted on his younger sister, Sheila, and that their life didn’t start out easy but got better in the Clifton home of his adoptive father, Tony Martinez.

“My dad, in my eyes, is a hero,” said Brenda Schafer, Troy’s older sister, during the funeral. “He raised six kids of his own, then he took Troy and Sheila in as his own, as babies. He has the heart of a mountain, and I know that heart is broken.”

To his family, especially his five older sisters, he was Troy, or Troy Boy, or Cutie Cheeks. To his friends, who filled Victory Life Church in Fruita on Wednesday morning, he was the dude from the skate park, the friendly guy at the Opportunity Center, the kid in construction class who always won at Hacky Sack, the one who handed out the fliers last week in Sunday School.

His friends shuffled into the church, dozens of teenagers shifting uncertainly. Most had made some effort appropriate to the occasion: a black hoodie, a striped tie knotted over a black T-shirt, black eyeliner and black fingernails. Perhaps the formalities of mourning are learned with more experience, but the grief is untaught, an immediate and visceral response coming in waves that seemed to overwhelm them.

They held each other and sobbed, and then looked to the smile at the front of the chapel — their friend, their brother, their Troy.


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