Region to say goodbye to local hero tomorrow

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May 31, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Region to say goodbye to local hero tomorrow

 

The tri-city area will bid farewell to a local icon Friday in the gymnasium of the Cominco Arena at 11 a.m.

BC Ambulance Services Trail Unit Chief David Martin, 57, died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia on May 25, after a decade-long battle with the disease.

Martin's wife, Myrna, said Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital staff displayed heroic effort, at her request, to rescusitate David - performing CPR for roughly 45 minutes before getting a pulse, to ensure he had a chance to say goodbye to his three sons, who were en route at the time.

"He fought so hard," she said, describing two failed stemcell transplants and years of treatment for the disease. "Nobody ever knew how sick he really was - he hid it. He didn't want the disease to affect the way he lived his life.

"We had talked about this, and we knew it would happen, but we didn't see it coming now - we thought he had awhile longer."

Myrna added, though, that David's legacy is to be found, not in his death, but in his life.

"He was passionate about life, that's what kept him going for so long," she said.

Born in Rossland, David met Myrna in 1979, when he was 25 and she was 17. 

"I don't know what it was about him - I think it was his presence, more than anything," Myrna said, adding that he was universally beloved for his gentleness and generosity. "He always put everybody else first, and he took the time to listen to everybody, no matter how busy he was or what he was doing - and he really heard people."

This, she said, was an extension of the generosity and caring that led him to spend 36 years as a paramedic, starting in Rossland, then Castlegar, then Nelson, then Trail ... where he worked a shift just last Tuesday before being admitted to the emergency ward on Wednesday.

"He loved it - he could care for people and help people," she said, adding that his sons (aged 29, 27 and 22) describe him as a classic, comic-book super hero. "He touched so many people."

As devoted as he was to his job, though, family meant more - Myrna said he called his mother every single night at 10 p.m., no matter how poorly he was feeling.

"He loved his family so much, and he was so proud of his boys."

A very subtle, dry sense of humour helped him over the rough spots, she said, as did an intense gratitude.

"He always used to say, 'There's always someone worse off than me, I'm pretty lucky,' " she said.

He loved to renovate and landscape, and was a meticulous planner, "Our yard is like a park; it's beautiful," Myrna said.

He even saw an up-side to the disease that would take his life - Myrna said the threat of death made the past 10 years richer and fuller, as the family embraced each moment with gratitude.

Tomorrow will be about celebrating that passionate love of life, she said, adding members of the public are welcome to come and say goodbye.

"They're setting up (the memorial to hold) about 350 people, and there's the bleachers, as well."

Services, including a full honour guard, will begin at 11 a.m.



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