|Major Richard L. Martin
Richard L. “Dick” Martin, 1940—2014. Growing up on the outskirts of Waverly, Illinois, in the 1940s, Richard Martin was transfixed by the small planes that often buzzed and swooped above the fields. One day when he was 6 or 7, Richard’s father ponied up the considerable sum of $5 to buy him a ride. That ride set the course of his life.
Working several jobs, Richard scraped by at Illinois College in Jacksonville (thank you, Dean Eldred). There he met a sparkling co-ed named Judy Schauerte. After their wedding and graduation, Richard became innkeeper of the Jacksonville Holiday Inn. He and Judy welcomed their first child, Bradley Howard (now of Sunrise, Florida.), shortly before Richard joined the U.S. Air Force and entered flight training. Over the next 50 years, Dick and Judy lived in 8 states and moved 22 times.
As a pilot, Dick visited six continents. He ate satay in Bangkok, crossed through Checkpoint Charlie, and ferried dignitaries to Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan long before “terrorism” became a household word. His passengers included future presidents Ford, Carter, Bush 41, and Reagan, as well as Mrs. Reagan, her hair put up in curlers for the overnight flight. For acts of valor in Vietnam [458th, 1969], Capt. Martin was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Toward the end of his service, Maj. Martin was appointed Chief of Flight Safety for the Military Airlift Command. He finished his career as a captain with Pan Am and TWA.
Richard’s finest hour, though—his marriage to that effervescent girl in the cat’s-eye glasses—lasted a lifetime. Dick and Judy adored each other. They lived in happy unison, just as the clocks in Richard’s collection chimed in perfect sync.
Richard could build or fix anything. He was an early adopter of technology—the calculator in the ‘70s, the PC in the ‘80s, GPS, email, and Netflix in the ‘90s, and e-books in the aughts, for instance. He enjoyed the Statler Brothers, NASCAR, chicken livers, iced tea, and the rhubarb pie his daughter-in-law Kim made for him. (You can take the boy away from the farm…) He also loved Renoirs and thought Parisians were friendly. He and Judy nearly wore the varnish off their trawler, Ti Lok, on whose hull no barnacle dared affix itself. Their grandson, Richard Philip, usually tagged along on their boating adventures and road trips, and he often stayed at their Deerfield Beach home. Their example of kindness and constancy will undoubtedly anchor him throughout his life.
On many an evening, Dick and Judy entertained friends from their condo community, Hillsboro Cove, or spent time with Judy’s brother, Jim, sister-in-law, Nancy, and niece, Angela. When visiting family in the Midwest, Richard and Judy liked to sip merlot and play cards with Richard’s brother Russell (Waverly, Ill.); his sister, Wilma Pletsch, and brother in-law, Quentin (Springfield, Ill.); his brother Warren and sister-in-law, Pam (Springfield, Ill.); college friends Dee and John Hill (Jacksonville, Ill.), and many other friends and family. They often stayed in St. Louis with their daughter, Melissa Jean Kinsey (“M.J.,” to her dad), and her husband, Brian. Richard and his daughter also kept in touch by FaceTime on their iPads.
Richard died of heart failure on March 11, 2014. Plans for a memorial service are pending. In lieu of flowers or dona- tions, we urge you to record your memories for your loved ones. Richard was a story-teller, but no amount of encouragement could coax his colorful tales onto the page. Perhaps, like every great storyteller, he required an audience.
From the hospital bed set up in his and Judy’s living room, surrounded by the many paintings they’d collected over the years, Richard invited visitors to “stick around for the art auction.” His sense of humor never flagged as he tried to buoy the spirits of his 15-year-old grandson. “When this is all over,” he quipped, unable to speak above a whisper, “where do you want to go this summer?"
Wherever it is, we know it won’t be the same without him.