With family at his side, William Neal "Bill" Martin, 81, of 816 Front Street, Fort Frances, Ont., passed away peacefully at Rainycrest Long-Term Care on Saturday, September 22, 2012. He was born to Captain Billy and Elsie (Neal) Martin on April 9, 1931 in Fort Frances and was a life-long resident of the town that he loved, raised along with his sister Jane, half-brother Bob Locke and half-sister Pat Magnes. As a young boy, he played hockey and football and, judging from any team photo, it's clear that young Bill was always the biggest kid in school. A graduate of Fort Frances High School, Bill listed his favorite subjects as History...
With family at his side, William Neal "Bill" Martin, 81, of 816 Front Street, Fort Frances, Ont., passed away peacefully at Rainycrest Long-Term Care on Saturday, September 22, 2012.
He was born to Captain Billy and Elsie (Neal) Martin on April 9, 1931 in Fort Frances and was a life-long resident of the town that he loved, raised along with his sister Jane, half-brother Bob Locke and half-sister Pat Magnes.
As a young boy, he played hockey and football and, judging from any team photo, it's clear that young Bill was always the biggest kid in school. A graduate of Fort Frances High School, Bill listed his favorite subjects as History and English. These continued as lifelong passions, as he was always interested in learning and discussing history, particularly politics, military and reading any book that involved airplanes or boats.
While growing up, some of his best friends were Donnie Lovisa, Robert Tindal, Larry Fontana, Alex Pattison and Jim Johnson. Later in life, he was also very close to Sid Asselin, Gerry Armstrong, Bruce Caldwell and Don Johnson.
On November 23, 1957, Bill exchanged wedding vows with Gladys Jolicouer at the Catholic Church in Stratton, Ont., and they called Fort Frances their home for almost 55 years.
Eventually, they settled into their home on Front Street with its distinctive logging chain fence, a symbol of the Martin family's heritage as part of the region's logging, pulpwood and paper industry. Bill had a successful career of over 38 years with the local pulp and paper mill, beginning as a member of the crew of the Hallett, captained by his father. He later served as a fishing guide on the MANDO, a two-story houseboat moored to the shore of Rainy Lake where the paper company entertained customers, executives and their guests. For most of his career, he was involved in getting wood to the mill, from towing it down the lake into the river and into the mill, to measuring it or keeping track of it. He served as foreman and supervisor and retired in 1995 as superintendent of pulpwood inventory.
Community involvement and service were a key part of his life. He served in various roles in the district Progressive Conservative Party, including attending several provincial and national leadership conventions. He was also honoured to serve the Town of Fort Frances as a councillor for 6 years and on many volunteer committees in the town and district.
Travelling was a way to relax, and Bill and Gladys were always on the move, whether it was for day trips around the district or "up the lake" on the family's Huk-A-Puk houseboat. He especially enjoyed taking road trips to visit Susan and Billy and their families. Special highlights included cruises to the Carribean and Alaska along with a trip to Europe to visit son Bill and Corinia and the kids which provided the opportunity to meet his distant family in England.
His favourite activities were training his many Chesapeake dogs, duck hunting, fishing, reading and singing. Other activities included carving decoys and woodcraft projects, many of which he donated to help raise funds at Ducks Unlimited auctions.
In summary, to say it in a way that he would often tell others… "You done good, Bill."
His loving family includes his wife, Gladys; two daughters, Susan (Ron Gushulak) of Loveland, Ohio and Diane (Wayne Krawchuk) of Fort Frances, one son William (Corinia) of Carleton Place, Ont.; 6 grandchildren, Reagan (Jessica) of Cincinnati, Ohio, Nathan & Michael of Loveland, Ohio, Kaid Krawchuk of Fort Frances, and William & Rebecca Martin of Carleton Place, Ont. He is also survived by his sister, Jane Sus of Fort Frances, sisters-in-law June Hrychuk of Emo, Ont., Eileen Pearson and Shirley (Mike Zdep) of Keewatin, Ont., and Margaret Benjamin of Fort Frances, Gladys Jolicouer of Stratton, Ont., Doreen Jolicouer of Keewatin, Ont., and by brothers-in-law Armand Jolicouer (Maureen) of Sioux Lookout, Ont., and Allan Jolicouer (Joan) of Barwick, Ont.
He will also be missed by many nieces, nephews and friends who were always welcomed to drop over for a cup or two of Bill's famously strong coffee.
He was predeceased by his parents, half-sister Pat, half-brother Bob, and sister-in-law Grace Locke, father-in-law and mother-in-law Tom and Myrtle Jolicouer, brothers-in-law Fred Sus, Tom and Vincent Jolicouer, Matt Hrychuk, Gordon Pearson and Mervin Benjamin.
A funeral mass will be held Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Fort Frances, with Fr. Francis Pudicherry officiating. Bruce Caldwell and Larry Fontana will serve as honourary pallbearers. His grandchildren will serve as active pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, memorial donations may be made to the Rainycrest Memorial Fund or to a charity of your choice c/o Green Funeral Home, P.O. Box 427, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3M8.
Please join us in remembering Bill Martin by visiting the family's online memorial at www.greenfuneralhomefortfrances.com
EULOGY - PRESENTED BY BILL'S SON-IN-LAW:
HOW DO YOU DO?
IF YOU'VE EVER CALLED THE MARTIN RESIDENCE ON THE PHONE, YOU'LL PROBABLY RECOGNIZE THAT BILL MARTIN TELEPHONE GREETING: HOW DO YOU DO?
WHEN I FIRST HEARD IT, I THOUGHT, THAT'S KIND OF DIFFERENT. MOST PEOPLE JUST SAY HELLO. BUT, I SOON CAME TO REALIZE THAT THIS WAS ONLY ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH HE LEFT HIS SIGNATURE.
SO… HOW DO YOU DO?
MY NAME IS RON GUSHULAK. BILL MARTIN WAS MY FATHER-IN-LAW AND MY FRIEND.
I'M HERE TODAY ON BEHALF OF OUR FAMILY… MY MOTHER-IN-LAW GLADYS, BILL'S SISTER JANE SUS, MY WIFE SUSAN, OUR SONS MICHAEL, NATHAN & REAGAN… AND OUR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, JESSICA.
I'M ALSO HERE ON BEHALF OF MY SISTER-IN-LAW, DIANE AND HER HUSBAND WAYNE, AND THEIR SON KAID…
AND MY BROTHER-IN-LAW BILLY THE 3RD, HIS WIFE CORINIA AND THEIR 2 GREAT KIDS, BILLY THE 4TH, AND REBECCA, BILL AND GLADYS'S ONLY, AND THEREFORE VERY SPECIAL GRANDDAUGHTER.
I'M ALSO HERE ON BEHALF OF ALL FAMILY, FRIENDS AND OTHERS WHO WERE IMPACTED BY THIS FINE MAN.
FIRST, A FEW WORDS OF THANKS TO ALL OF THOSE NEAR AND FAR, WHO HAVE BEEN SO SUPPORTIVE OF OUR FAMILY INCLUDING: THE STAFF OF LAVERENDRYE HOSPITAL, HIS LONGTIME PHYSICIAN, DR. JOHNSTONE IN FORT FRANCES, DR. SARANCHUK IN WINNIPEG, AND THE NURSES AND OTHER STAFF WHO HAVE HELPED OVER THE YEARS AND, ESPECIALLY OVER THESE PAST MONTHS BY PROVIDING PROFESSIONAL CARE AND FOR PUTTING UP WITH BILL'S JOKES AND FUNNY STORIES AS THEY TRIED TO STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT THEY HAD TO DO.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU AS WELL, TO THE HOME CARE STAFF WHO PROVIDED WONDERFUL SERVICE TO BILL, ALLOWING HIM TO REMAIN IN THE COMFORT OF HIS OWN HOME FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD.
TO THE STAFF OF RAINYCREST, WHO PROVIDED SUPERB CARE AND COMPASSION, ALONG WITH COMFORT AND SUPPORT FOR OUR FAMILY IN THE FINAL WEEKS.
THANKS TO FATHER FRANCIS PUDICHERRY, FATHER RAYMOND FROM WINNIPEG AND A DEAR FAMILY FRIEND, THE REVEREND GEORGINA CONNOR, FOR THEIR WONDERFUL SUPPORT AND LOVE.
OUR APPRECIATION ALSO EXTENDS TO MR. BRUCE CALDWELL AND MR. LARRY FONTANA WHO, ALONG WITH THEIR WIVES LOIS AND BETTY, HAVE BEEN VERY DEAR FRIENDS OF BILL AND GLADYS FOR MANY YEARS. THANK YOU BRUCE AND LARRY FOR CARING SO MUCH FOR BILL AND FOR SERVING AS HONORARY PALLBEARERS TODAY.
WHETHER YOU HAVE TRAVELED MANY MILES OR HAVE WALKED OVER HERE FROM DOWN THE STREET TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND EXPRESS YOUR GRIEF, WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOUR BEING WITH US.
YOUR PRESENCE TODAY IS A SPECIAL TRIBUTE.
TODAY TRULY IS A SAD DAY. A DAY THAT NONE OF US WELCOME. WHILE IT'S A DAY OF GRIEF, TEARS AND SADNESS, IT'S ALSO A DAY WHEN WE WANT TO EXPRESS OUR IMMENSE GRATITUDE FOR HAVING KNOWN BILL MARTIN, SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN SUCH AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN OUR LIVES AND WHO WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE HE HAS LEFT BEHIND.
FORTUNATELY, BILL HAS GIVEN US A LOT OF MATERIAL TO WORK WITH.
A FEW MONTHS AFTER SUSAN ASKED ME OUT ON OUR FIRST DATE (34 YEARS AGO TOMORROW… BUT WHO'S COUNTING), I WAS INVITED TO CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER WITH HER FAMILY AT MARTIN MANOR ON FRONT STREET. THE WHOLE FAMILY WAS THERE, INCLUDING AUNTIE MARG AND UNCLE MERVIN. GLADYS SERVED A WONDERFUL FEAST. AFTER DINNER, AS I ROLLED INTO THE LIVING ROOM WITH MY BELLY FULL OF FOOD, SUSAN CAME OVER AND WHISPERED… "YOU MIGHT WANT TO HELP WITH THE DISHES. IT'S SOMETHING THAT MY DAD DOES." I THOUGHT TO MYSELF… "BUT I'M A GUEST!" THEN I COULD HEAR BILL FILLING UP THE SINK WITH HOT SOAPY WATER, ROLLED UP THE SLEEVES OF HIS SWEATER, AND STARTED INTO WASHING THE DISHES. WHEN ABOUT HALF A SINK OF DISHES HAD BEEN WASHED, HE YELLED OVER: "OKAY RONNIE, GET OVER HERE, GRAB A TOWEL!" AND OF COURSE I DID WHAT HE SAID. THEN I HEARD SOMETHING A SOUND THAT WOULD BECOME VERY FAMILIAR TO ME… "OH DANNY BOY, THE PIPES THE PIPES ARE CALLING…"
DANNY BOY... OVER THE YEARS, I HAVE HEARD BILL SING THAT SONG A COUNTLESS NUMBER OF TIMES.
SINGING… IT WAS SOMETHING WE SHARED MANY TIMES. EARLY ON, HE'D ASK ME TO PLAY GUITAR AND WE'D SING WITH HIS OLD FRIENDS DON JOHNSON, GERARD ARMSTRONG AND THE CALDWELLS WHEN THEY'D VISIT THE MARTINS AT CHRISTMAS TIME.
LOTS OF GOOD TIMES… OVER THE YEARS, WHEN BILL AND GLADYS WOULD TRAVEL TO VISIT US EITHER IN TIMMINS OR TEXAS OR CINCINNATI, WE'D ALWAYS TAKE AT LEAST ONE EVENING WHEN I'D PULL OUT MY GUITAR AND BILL WOULD FLIP THROUGH MY OLD SONGBOOKS AND WE'D SING… UNTIL LONG AFTER THE KIDS HAD WANDERED AWAY FROM THE TABLE AND THE REST OF OUR AUDIENCE (SUSAN AND GLADYS) HAD LEFT THE ROOM, JUST AS WE WERE STARTING TO SOUND PRETTY GOOD.
HE EVEN TOOK TO LEARNING HOW TO PLAY THE PIANO OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, SOMETHING HE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO. AND HE GOT SO HE COULD PLAY AND SING PRETTY WELL… AT LEAST HE THOUGHT SO.
THE GUY SANG ALL THE TIME: IN THE CAR, ON THE HOUSEBOAT, AT THE BARBEQUE GRILL. IT MIGHT BE PARTS OF A SONG BY JOHN DENVER, JOHN MCDERMOTT OR JOHNNY CASH. SOMETIMES HE MIGHT BLEND PARTS FROM ALL THREE JOHNNY'S INTO ONE SONG.
WALK INTO THE GARAGE NEAR HIS WORKSHOP DOOR AND YOU'D HEAR HIM IN THERE SINGING. ENTER THE WORKSHOP AND THERE YOU'D FIND BILL, WORKING AT HIS WORKBENCH WHILE HIS BEST FRIEND, HIS CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER TEX WAS LYING ON A BLANKET BY THE WOODSTOVE.
OVER THE YEARS, EACH OF BILL'S DOGS HAS SERVED AS AN AUDIENCE TO HIS BALLADS, AS HE SPENT HOURS WORKING ON SOME KIND OF PROJECT: GLUEING A MODEL AIRPLANE, FIXING A MOTOR, CARVING A DECOY, SANDING OR STAINING SOMETHING THAT MIGHT BECOME A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR A FAMILY MEMBER OR AN ITEM UP FOR BID AT THE NEXT DUCKS UNLIMITED AUCTION.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, ON A HOT DAY IN JULY OF THIS SUMMER, WE WERE BACK IN TOWN, AND BILL HAD BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL FOR SEVERAL WEEKS ALREADY. I SPENT SOME TIME KICKING AROUND BILL'S OLD WORKSHOP AND TEX WAS IN THERE, LYING DOWN ON HIS BLANKET AND I LOOKED DOWN AT TEX AND ASKED HIM, "TEX, HOW HAS IT BEEN AROUND HERE WITHOUT YOUR BUDDY?" I DIDN'T REALLY EXPECT THE DOG TO ANSWER ME, BUT HE LOOKED UP AT ME WITH THOSE BIG BROWN EYES AS IF TO SAY… "IT SURE HAS BEEN QUIET AROUND HERE."
SINGING. A BILL MARTIN SIGNATURE.
OTHER SIGNATURE ITEMS?
HIS COMMON SENSE ATTITUDE... HE SIMPLY HAD A WAY OF SEEING THROUGH THE CLUTTER AND CUTTING TO THE CHASE.
HE WAS ALSO AN ETERNAL OPTIMIST... HOW ELSE COULD HE CONTINUE TO BE A TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS FAN ALL OF THESE YEARS? KIND OF A SHAME THAT HE'S GONE NOW, JUST AS THE LEAFS ARE ABOUT TO ACHIEVE THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL ONCE AGAIN… SOMETHING THAT'S ELUDED THEM FOR YEARS… MAKING THE PLAYOFFS.
HIS PLAYFUL ATTITUDE AND HIS ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND AND CONNECT WITH HIS GRANDCHILDREN... EVERY TRIP TO VISIT US IN CINCINNATI INCLUDED A JOURNEY TO THE HOBBYTOWN USA HOBBY SHOP, WHERE GRAMPA AND THE BOYS WOULD BROWSE THROUGH PLASTIC MODELS OF AIRPLANES AND SHIPS THAT BILL WOULD USE AS HISTORY LESSONS TO TEACH THE BOYS. THEY'D DREAM TOGETHER ABOUT RADIO CONTROLLED PLANES AND BOATS, AND THEN WANDER OVER TO THE WOODCRAFTING AREA, WHERE HE'D PICK UP ANOTHER TOOL OF SOME SORT.
HE WAS INQUISITIVE... HE LOVED TO READ, AND EXPLORE NEW IDEAS. IF THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT INTERESTED HIM THAT HE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND, HE'D FIND A BOOK OR A MAGAZINE AND READ ABOUT IT. HIS KID-LIKE CURIOSITY AND DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS WORKED WAS HANDED DOWN TO MY BOYS AND I'M CERTAIN THAT THEY WILL CARRY THIS ON THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES.
WE WILL MISS... HIS MASSIVE BOWL OF POPCORN IN FRONT OF THE TV, HIS HOME-MADE TOFFEE THAT HE'D MAKE ALL BY HIMSELF EACH CHRISTMAS. HIS LOVE OF DOGS, HIS LOVE OF MUSIC, HIS ABILITY TO SIT IN A QUIET ROOM READING A CALVIN AND HOBBES CARTOON BOOK AND THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN, BURST OUT LAUGHING. OR THE SIMILAR BOUTS OF LAUGHTER WHILE WATCHING A PINK PANTHER MOVIE.
BUT WAIT… WILL WE TRULY MISS THESE THINGS?
OR... WILL WE STILL SEE THIS OPTIMISM, THIS COMMON SENSE AND PLAYFUL ATTITUDE AND CURIOSITY IN SUSAN, IN DIANE AND IN BILLY AND EACH OF HIS GRANDCHILDREN WHOM HE LOVED SO MUCH AND WILL WE SEE THESE THINGS IN OURSELVES WHEN WE GREET EACH OTHER WITH A HOW DO YOU DO? OR CATCH OURSELVES ACTING LIKE A KID OR SINGING WHILE WE DO THE DISHES?
THANK YOU BILL. YOU DONE GOOD. AND WE LOVE YOU FOR THAT.