On Saturday, December 1, 2018, 1st SGT Gary O. Martin was relieved of his post in this world. Born in Portland, OR on August 18, 1939, he tended to his duties for 79 years. During that time he was a loving husband and father; he traveled the world; and, he worked in a variety of careers, following in the steps of his father and grandfathers with a life committed to public service. Because of his efforts, the Oregon National Guard Pipe Band represented the State of Oregon during the first inauguration of President Ronald Reagan on January 20, 1981. But most of all, Gary was a Marine. He embodied honor, courage, and commitment—the Marine Corps values that allow them to face down every battle they fight. He leaves his wife of 32 years, his son and daughters, and his many grandchildren to continue the watch. He is gone, but not forgotten.
A proud member of the United States Marine Corps, Gary also served in the Army Reserve and the Oregon National Guard for more than 31 years in military service. Again, like his father and a grandfather, he served as a peace officer in law enforcement, with the best of times being on his big Harleys (with red and blue lights!). Simply put, this gruff, broad-shouldered, 6 ft 3 in man was bigger than life, and so was his heart for others. He was known for his sense of humor and the multitude of stories he had to tell!
In December 1979, he led a pack of two dozen “gang” bikers on a mission. When the Portland police were poised to ticket the motorcycle club members for parading without a permit, Gary pointed out they were bringing toys to the kids at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children so they would have something under the Christmas tree, and that among his bikers were a local sheriff and deputy sheriff. That was just before he called their attention to the van carrying TV reporters and told the officers, “You’re going to look kind of foolish on the 6 o’clock news giving us a ticket for bringing toys to sick and injured kids.” The bikers were allowed to pass. The following year, and for 18 more, “Sarge”, who was also a Mason and a Shriner, applied for the parade permit at Portland City Hall as the Coordinator for the annual Shriner’s Hospital Christmas Toy Run.
After he and his wife Pat returned to her home in Texas in 2000, he continued to pursue his passion for helping others as a fireman and paramedic with the Powderly Volunteer Fire Department. He served as a Red Cross volunteer in responding to the waves of people coming into Paris after major hurricanes hit Louisiana and the Texas Coast. Then, he went to prison: As a guest of Warden Burl Cain and the Heart of Texas Foundation, he spent 3 days inside Angola Prison in Louisiana where God turned his heart from being one who helped to put people into prison, to one who helped to bring a message of redemption and freedom to incarcerated fathers at the Johnston Unit in Winnsboro, TX.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Angie McKenzie and William Martin, his step-father, Frank McKenzie, a son, Gary Otis Martin, Jr., and a daughter, Katherine Martin. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Patricia Watson Martin; their son, Andrew Martin and wife, Trina of Powderly, TX; daughters, Robin Martin of Wenatchee, WA and Rebecca Martin of Clackamas, OR; grandchildren, Landon McKee-McDowra, Michael Martin and Gabriel Martin of Powderly, Sunshine Blagg & husband, Charles, Desiree Ledgerwood & husband, Corey, of Wenatchee, WA, Forrest Martin and Ashley Martin of Portland, OR, along with Sean Hayward & fiancee, Dani Mendenhall and son Collin of Columbus, NE; as well as 6 great-grandchildren, Elizabeth & husband, Christopher Robertson, Emily, Abigail, and Rebekah Blagg, Izabelle Grace and Zander Michael Ledgerwood, all of Wenatchee, WA.
The body will lie in state at Roden-Pryor Funeral Home on Sunday, December 9, 2018, between the hours of Noon and 6 p.m. Gary will be interred with military honors at the DFW National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. Serving as pallbearers will be Andrew Martin; Ryan Crawford; Cody Anders; and, Shane McDowra, with Chaplain Casey Miner officiating.
A Memorial Service celebrating Gary’s life—and sharing some of his stories – will be held on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at His Place Fellowship Church, Paris, Texas, with Pastor Mike Fortenberry officiating.
Given Gary’s passion for helping others, his family encourages any donations in his memory to be made to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, 3101 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd.; Portland, OR 97239, or to the Powderly Volunteer Fire Department, 100 County Road 44112; Powderly, Texas 75473.
Condolences may be left for the family at Roden-Pryor.com