With family at his side, William Neal “Bill” Martin, 81, of 816 Front St., Fort Frances, Ont., passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 at Rainycrest Long-Term Care in Fort Frances.
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 favourite subjects as history and English. These continued as lifelong passions, as he always was 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 also was very close to Sid Asselin, Gerry Armstrong, Bruce Caldwell, and Don Johnson.
On Nov. 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 more than 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, retiring in 1995 as superintendent of pulpwood inventory.
Community involvement and service were a key part of his life. Bill served in various roles in the district Progressive Conservative Party, including attending several provincial and national leadership conventions. He also was honoured to serve the Town of Fort Frances as a councillor for six years and on many volunteer committees in the town and district.
Travelling was a way to relax, and Bill and Gladys always were 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 Caribbean 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, Ont.; one son, William (Corinia) of Carleton Place, Ont.; and six grandchildren, Reagan (Jessica) of Cincinnati, Ohio, Nathan and Michael of Loveland, Ohio, Kaid Krawchuk of Fort Frances, Ont., and William and Rebecca Martin of Carleton Place, Ont.
He also is survived by his sister, Jane Sus of Fort Frances, Ont.; sisters-in-law, June Hrychuk of Emo, Ont., Eileen Pearson and Shirley (Mike Zdep) of Keewatin, Ont., and Margaret Benjamin of Fort Frances, Ont.; and brothers-in-law, Armand Jolicouer (Maureen) of Sioux Lookout, Ont. and Allan Jolicouer (Joan) of Barwick, Ont.
He also will 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.
Bill 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; and brothers-in-law, Fred Sus, Tom and Vincent Jolicouer, Matt Hrychuk, Gordon Pearson, and Mervin Benjamin.
A funeral mass will be held Saturday, Sept. 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 the active pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, in memoriam 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.
Visit the family’s online memorial at www.greenfuneralhomefortfrances.com