Funeral arrangements set for beloved ‘Watermelon Man’

John Materna
John Materna(Action News 5)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:22 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Funeral arrangements have been set for John “Red” Materna, who was fatally shot in an attempted robbery while he was selling watermelons at a busy street corner on May 15.

Materna, affectionately known as “Red the Watermelon Man,” would set up around Memphis and sell the fruit every morning from his truck for the past 30 years.

According to his family, Materna would use the extra cash for cruises for himself and his wife of 43 years.

John Materna
John Materna(Action News 5)

Police say on the morning of May 15, officers responded to the corner of Homer Street and Wayne Avenue, where Materna was found lying on the ground next to his truck, suffering from a single gunshot wound to his stomach.

Materna was transported to Regional One Hospital in critical condition and succumbed to his injuries two weeks later.

A 15-year-old has been arrested and charged with his murder.

Family and friends are set to gather for a funeral service on Sunday, June 4, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Family Funeral Care located at 4925 Summer Avenue.

Materna is survived by his wife, two daughters, three sons, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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