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Maurice Martinez, poet, filmmaker and UNCW professor, dies aged 88

dr  Maurice M. Martinez, who taught at UNCW's Watson College of Education for 19 years, died September 12 at the age of 88.

dr Maurice M. Martinez, a longtime professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Watson College of Education who was also a force in the port city’s cultural scene, died Monday, September 12. He was 88 years old.

Martinez was an educator by trade and an artist by nature: a published poet who organized slam sessions and presented his work at community meetings; an award-winning photographer and filmmaker with several documentaries screened at the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington and the NC Black Film Festival; and a musician with a deep knowledge and love of jazz.

dr  Maurice Martinez poses at UNCW's Watson School of Education in 2006.

dr Candace Thompson, chair of UNCW’s Department of Instructional Technology, Foundation and Secondary Education, emailed Watson College on Wednesday to announce the death of her colleague.

“With the death of Dr. Maurice Martinez we lost a brilliant light at Watson,” Thompson wrote. “He was an instigator…of good trouble, soulful, funny, empowered, generous, and an artful man with a keen eye on history and a full love for the present and future.

UNCW Professor Maurice Martinez helps a student during one of his training courses in 2009.

“Those of us who have had the pleasure of knowing Maurice feel the hole he left in this world. We can rest easy knowing that Maurice fought the good fight every day through his art – writing, documentary, poetry and jazz, through his teaching and through his honest manner. As a black woman at this college, I was inspired by Maurice’s care and Wisdom encourages, protects and encourages. I will miss him. I always celebrate him.”

dr  Maurice Martinez, a professor at UNCW, in 2009.

Born in 1934 in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, Maurice Manuel Martinez Jr. carried the city’s culture with him throughout his life. According to an article by Wilmington novelist Wiley Cash that appeared in Raleigh’s Walter Magazine last year, Martinez began taking photographs when he was a student at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. In the early ’60s he filmed concerts by jazz luminaries such as John Coltrane.

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