|Birth: ||Mar. 1, 1890|
|Death: ||Jan. 31, 1984|
San Francisco County
Monterey Peninsula Herald, Friday February 3, 1984, page 4
Mrs. Elsie Martinez Dies at 93
Elsie Whitaker Martinez, a resident of Carmel in its early days as a Bohemian artists' colony, died Wednesday at St. Anne's Home in San Francisco following a brief illness. She was 93.
Born March 1, 1890, in Manitoba, Canada, she was the widow of painter Xavier Martinez, a prominent California artist.
Renowned for her beauty in youth and old age, she was as a young woman a favorite of writer and essayist Ambrose Bierce and poet Joaquin Miller, and an associate of most people in Northern California's Bohemian community.
Her recollections of the community are recorded in the book History of Bay Area Artists and Writers" published by the oral history division of the Bancroft Library in Berkley.
In her own right, Mrs. Martinez, known as Pelly, worked actively for the restoration of Carmel Mission as a secretary and fund-raising publicist for both Harry Downie, who oversaw the restoration project, and for then pastor Rev. Michael D. O'Connell in the 1940s and 1950s.
A resident of Piedmont beginning in 1902, she was the daughter of Herman Whitaker, a novelist and war correspondent who was a close friend of writer Jack London.
She married Martinez in 1907 and spent her summers with him in Carmel until 1913 while he taught art courses and helped, with Francis McComas and others, to establish the art gallery at the old Hotel Del Monte. During the rest of the year, they lived in Oakland, where he taught at the California ColČlege of Arts and Crafts.
She was a frequent visitor to the Peninsula between 1913 and 1940, when she moved to Carmel. She moved to San Francisco in 1981.
Reminiscing about her early years during a Herald interview in 1974, Mrs. Martinez said of Bierce that he was a "distinguished, handsome Southern gentleman, charming, witty and brilliant" who, when a party was being planned, would ask the hosts to "invite that little Mrs. Martinez so I'll have someone to talk to."
Poet Miller, who captured the hearts of English ladies in 1870 with his white buckskin suit, beaded vest, poetry and charm, favored Mrs. Martinez when she was 16 and he in his 70s with what she said was "the last of (the) tributes" that won hearts in England: ReČciting a poem in her honor, he kissed her hand and showered her with rose petals.
She is survived by a daughter, Micaela Martinez DuCasse of Piedmont; two granddaughters, including Jeanne R. DuCasse of Carmel; and three great-grandchildren.
Memorial services are pending.
The family suggests memorial contributions to the Library Fund, Vallombrosa Retreat Center, Menlo Park.
Xavier Martinez (1869 - 1943)*
San Carlos Cemetery
Plot: St. Mathew Row 15 Plot 157
Created by: Gary Carlsen
Record added: Aug 24, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 57622050