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Donald B. "Don" Martin
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Birth: Apr. 15, 1933
Death: Apr. 2, 2013

Donald B. "Don" MARTIN
MARTIN, Donald B. "Don" April 15, 1933 - April 2, 2013 Peacefully passed away with his family at his side on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at St. Mary's Hospital. Don, in his 80th year, was the husband and best friend of Waldtraut "Wally" (Wraase) for almost 59 years. Dear father of Dennis (Denise) of Kitchener, Chuck (Leslie) of Elmira, and Tim (Kelly) of Guelph. Loving Papa of Derek (Jess), Zachary, Jake and Kayla; Chris; Jacqueline and Ryan. Also survived by his niece and nephews Murray (Marilyn) Shantz, Anne (Eric) Bauman and David (Shari) Shantz, and their families. Predeceased by his parents Eli B. and Mary Ann (Brubacher) Martin, his sister Alice Shantz, and his brother-in-law Melvin Shantz. Don was a highly respected local business leader and an avid outdoor sports enthusiast who lived his life to the fullest. He was committed to many projects in Elmira through his membership in service clubs and by holding various civic positions. Some of his many awards included Woolwich Citizen of the Year and his induction into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame. His business and hobbies took him to many different parts of the world. More recently, his time was divided between Florida and Chesley Lake. A lifelong resident of Chesley Lake, he made many significant contributions to the betterment of the lake and the camp. At Don's request, cremation has taken place. There will be no funeral home visitation. A private family service will be held. A memorial gathering for family and friends to celebrate Don's life will be held at the Lions Hall, 40 South St. W., Elmira on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. with fellowship and camaraderie to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations to Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, St. Mary's Cardiac Care Centre or Hallman Chapel, Chesley Lake would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy and may be placed by calling the Dreisinger Funeral Home , Elmira (519-669-2207).

‘He wanted to do anything and everything'
Don Martin, formerly of Elmira

Valerie Hill

When a young Don Martin used his remarkable talents and built a crystal radio, he was, in fact, beginning to distance himself from his family's conservative Mennonite faith, perhaps unknowingly.

"That was not appreciated," said son Chuck Martin, recounting how his dad was caught listening to gospel on the little radio which Don's mother promptly destroyed. Undeterred, Don would spend a lifetime building things with his hands, including a car when he was 14.

"It was more a glorified go cart," said Chuck. "He was driving it toward St. Jacobs when he was pulled over by police who asked if he had a licence, which, of course, he didn't."

The local chief of police, knowing Don's father, gave the boy a piece of paper that allowed him to drive for his father, Eli Martin's feed mill. It was all rather unregulated in the 1940s, but that little homemade car was the beginning of bigger and better projects, including a speed boat which he took to Lake Belwood with his friends to water ski.

Don was a determined boy and never let anything stand in his way, to the point he was eventually given a choice: give up his ideas and conform, or leave the church. He chose the latter, moving to a less restrictive Mennonite church. He would eventually leave that church, as well — but not before marrying one of its pretty congregants, Waldtraut (Wally) Wraase in 1954.

"He was always one step ahead of the times," said Wally. "That got him into trouble."

But Wally admired the young man's ambition, his wildly creative mind and adventurous spirit.

Don was born one of two children in Elmira and left school at 16, working at a number of manual jobs, including carpentry. In his mid-20s, he joined his father's company, a feed mill started by his grandfather and operated today by Don's sons Chuck, Dennis and Tim. When Don ran the place, he began introducing more modern mechanization, expanding the business exponentially, but his life was not just about work.

"He took up flying in his early 20s and bought an airplane with a friend," said Chuck. "He continued to fly a lot."

In fact, Don had owned two Cessnas, one with floats for water landing, which provided a whole new avenue for adventure for the young couple as they winged their way across the top of Canada, from Labrador to the Yukon, landing on remote lakes where they would fish for their dinner.

Only once did they have a slight misadventure when Wally was reaching awkwardly to fetch an item in the back of the plane and managed to dislocate a shoulder. Don landed the plane on the Alaska Highway where they taxied up to a truck stop and asked astonished bystanders directions to a medical clinic. That effort required taking off and landing on the highway again. Once Wally was all fixed up, the locals asked if the Martins would mind doing one more landing so it could be filmed. The couple happily complied.

Don was equally adventurous in his work life, always coming up with new ideas that led to the next adventure.

When he introduced a line of trout food, Don took it a step further and helped pioneer fish farming in the province. With his line of pet food, Don needed a supply of rendered animal by-products and became a major shareholder in the development of Rothsay Concentrates rendering plant. On a trip to Austria, he met people involved in the wine business, and from that meeting, became one of the first people to introduce specific types of Riesling and other grape varieties into Ontario.

"He wanted to do anything and everything," said Chuck. "He didn't know he couldn't. Not everything was a success."

From feed mill owner, Don added real estate developer to his list of accomplishments, specifically the area of Elmira known as Birdland, where streets are named after birds.

In the 1970s, he was involved in a multimillion-dollar poultry processing plant, in the mid-1980s he owned three hog farms and expanded his own feed mill business to include six locations in southwestern Ontario. It seemed Don had his entrepreneurial fingers in just about everything and was involved in the creation of more than 30 businesses, as well as helping others launch their own business, particularly if it was a business that would offer services he needed.

His list of volunteer gigs also seemed endless: Elmira Board of Trade president, Elmira High School board, 45-year member of the Lions Club and volunteer for search-and-rescue missions with his airplane. He was a Mason, a Shriner and chairman of the Canadian Feed Manufacturers Association. Then there were the numerous community projects: Lions Sports Park, Kissing Bridge Trail, Lions Woolwich Dam Trail, Elmira Golf and Country Club and in 1992, Don was named Woolwich Citizen of the Year and inducted into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

With all this activity, Don still managed to be an involved dad, and the family spent a lot of time at their Chesley Lake cottage, where the couple eventually retired. Even there, Don left his mark after the lake's aerator was destroyed in a storm and he designed a new, more reliable system. There seemed to be no problem he would not eagerly tackle, not even when he was given a year to live after developing cancer in his late 40s. Three decades later, Don finally lost the battle to chronic lymphatic leukemia, a month after he'd been happily skiing in Colorado.

Wally said her husband was ever intrepid, always encouraging her to "let's see around the next bend."
Family links: 
  Eli B Martin (1901 - 1980)
  Mary Ann Brubacher Martin (1904 - 1973)
  Alice B Martin Shantz (1930 - 1984)*
  Donald B. Martin (1933 - 2013)
*Calculated relationship
Created by: Allan Dettweiler
Record added: Apr 04, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 107788282
Donald B. Don Martin
Added by: Allan Dettweiler
Donald B. Don Martin
Added by: Allan Dettweiler
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