Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I just learned that my good friend Orlando Martinez passed away.

Orlando, then around 70, kept me company through law school, informing me at great length about communism, capitalism and all sorts of topics, and reminding me of things other than the narrow world of law school. Orlando often brought me a bowl of homemade chicken soup and a welcome break from my studies.

At that time Orlando was my neighbor, an artist and writer, writing for leftist publications like the Montelibre Monthly and trying valiantly to get his books published. He sometimes took care of my kitty Elfi when I was out of town, and he even painted a portrait of her as a gift for me. I treasure it. Orlando gave our apartment building a sense of community.

Once, Orlando agreed to visit my law school class as a volunteer juror for jury selection practice. He dominated the event and gave the law students some real world jury selection practice of a kind they couldn’t get from the standard law student volunteers. I don’t think anyone else got a word in, and I think Orlando enjoyed the disruption he created! I enjoyed it too, as I think law school students should be disrupted and made to think outside the textbooks a little more often.

One winter Orlando rescued a kitten and its mother who were in danger of freezing on the back porch of our apartment building. Together Orlando and I caught the mother kitty, which wasn’t easy because she was wild, and the pair lived in Orlando’s closet until the kitten, who Orlando named Bucky Linn, was old enough to adopt out. We found a home for her with a law student.

Orlando moved to Albuquerque, but we kept in touch and I visited him one year at Christmas time. We had Christmas dinner at a youth hostel in Albuquerque, and I enjoyed watching Orlando entertain the other guests.

In his later years Orlando became an advocate for the rights of medical patients, and he was a generous donor to the scholarship fund for Lidia, a young woman who I met in Bolivia. Thanks to the donations of Orlando and many of my friends and family, Lidia has completed more than half of her five-year nursing course.

Orlando was a regular reader of my blog, and he often chided me when its contents were not political enough.

Orlando delighted in making people think, and in helping others. I will miss him dearly.