November 1, 1918 to June 14, 2016
Imagine that it's 8am on a cold windy Saturday in February and you are entering LaConner to do your “duty” at Smelt Derby. But before you can get to Derby Headquarters, traffic is stopped by frail Octogenarian Fred Martin selling raffle tickets; now that “duty” became less onerous because you won’t be outside as long as Fred nor in the middle of the street and you have become more inspired to “serve” at Smelt Derby.
The Monday night before Smelt Derby you might have been inspired by a short talk from Fred telling us how Smelt Derby was founded to raise funds for scholarships. You may have laughed at the story of the year as Mayor when Fred ordered the Derby shut down due to too many participants in the 10 cent beers. Followed with a smile when told the Derby was skipped for a year and the merchants missed the crowds and demanded it return.
But the story of Fred’s life was inspiring long before World War II, after years in the Seattle Children’s Home orphanage and teenage years on an Orcas Island Farm. He returned to high school at age 18 and was about to graduate as valedictorian when the war broke out. So he enlisted in the Navy serving as a Pharmacist’s Mate in the South Pacific where he met Eleanor Roosevelt on Guadalcanal.
Fred continued to want more schooling and got his Pharmacy degree at the University of Washington, just in time to be called up for the Korean War. After the war, he married Margaret, bought a drug store and moved to LaConner. Now, he really began his “Service Above Self”. He served on the City Council, as Mayor, a founder of EDASC, the Economic Development Association of Skagit County, many other Boards and of course 60 years in Rotary. He even worked on painting the Rainbow Bridge orange.
As a Rotarian, Fred had few equals, he had decades of perfect attendance. When the club changed its meeting time from 7 to 6PM, we almost didn’t do it because he kept the Store open until 6PM. He encouraged us to make the change and his on-time record improved.
Whenever a program speaker touched upon local education, economics or political subjects Fred had pertinent comments and questions, right up to the end, as long as he could hear the speaker.
Fred mentored generations of Rotarians and was a wealth of Rotary and community information. We are proud to name our club Outstanding Achievement award the Martin Light award after Fred Martin and Aaron Dee Light another wonderful Rotarian. More recently we encouraged the town to name a new gazebo after Fred and Margaret Martin. Plus we have named a scholarship the Fred Martin Academic Scholarship. His good community work is now entrusted to us and we all intend to inspire others to follow Fred’s example.
FRED MARTIN YOU WILL BE MISSED!