Roland Bruce Martin, 85, went home to his Lord, September 3, 2013. Roland was born April 21, 1928 in the old Visalia Hospital to Levelyn and Edna Martin. He was the first born of seven children. Roland is survived by all of his siblings; Lewis, Donna Mae, Levelyn Jr., David, Lucretia, and John
.Roland lived his entire life in Visalia where he attended Conyer, Jefferson, and Washington Elementary schools. He was a member of the first class at Sierra Vista. Jr. High School. He graduated from Visalia Union High School in 1946. He never completely got over the Maroon and White colors staying at the now Mt. Whitney High School.
Roland lived his childhood on South Encina Street near Jefferson School. That area and the wide open field and creek of what is now Mr. Whitney, was his childhood playground.
Roland enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947. He was part of the First Cavalary unit assigned as part of the occupational force in Japan. He was honorably discharged in April of 1950. He spoke fluent Japanese upon his return to the states, and retained the language even in his later years.
In June of 1952, Roland married Dona Mae Kelley. They remained constant companions and best friends until his death. Roland is survived by his three children, Kevin (Stephanie), Nancy Moore (Paul), and Daren (Lydia), nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Family was extremely important to "Papa". He took care of everyone.Roland worked for Knudsen's Creamery for thirty years as a route salesman, where he met his best friend of over 40 years, Jake Preslik. They spent many adventures together during their lifetimes. Roland was also a longtime member of First Baptist, now Gateway Church. He was also a life member of the National Rifle Association and National Geographic Society , and the Tulare County Historical Society - always a lover of freedom and America.
Roland's favorite hobbies were gardening, where he was known for his famous tomatoes, that he grew by the tons, just to give to others. From family members to friends and even his chemo nurse, they all loved Papa's tomatoes. He loved hunting and fly fishing. He looked forward every year to packing into the "back country", the "Middle Tule" with his family and friends to hunt, fish, play cards, and tell stories about "old Ben Harris." He was known as one of the "best shots" and brought down many a buck with his .300 Savage rifle.
Roland lived his life in service to others- from mowing lawns, to giving away fruit vegetables, groceries and anything else anyone needed. He "lived his faith" to everyone. He will be greatly missed - his laugh, his jokes, his tall tales and stories, and his larger than life presence.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held Sat. September 7, at 10:00 at Gateway Church in Visalia. Viewing to be held Friday, September 6 from 5-7 at Miller Memorial Chapel in Visalia. Graveside Services will be Monday, Septmeber 9 at the Visalia Cemetary.