GENE MARTIN 1935-2021
Gene Martin passed away at Enloe Hospital on August 1, 2021, following a year of declining health.
Born Eugene Thomas Martin in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 25, 1935, to Joe and Elsye Martin, he was a wonderful athlete, loved baseball, and also as a youngster liked to draw, paint and sculpt.
Gene graduated from South High School in 1952 and was recruited by a number of major league baseball teams. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota, honoring his mother's wishes. Gene played second base on the Minnesota team that won the College World Series in 1956.
In his senior year he met his future wife, Maria, at a U of M football game. She was impressed by his intelligence and integrity. He served in the U.S. Army as a Medic during 1957-58. Gene and Maria married in her home town of Windom, Minnesota in February 1958.
In 1959 he completed work for his college degree and also signed with the San Francisco Giants. After spring training in Florida, he was sent to Salem, MA where he played alongside baseball legends including Juan Marichal and Matty Alou. He left professional baseball following a shoulder injury.
In 1960 he returned to Minnesota for his master's degree in Health Science. He was recruited by the Fullerton, CA, district to begin his teaching and coaching career which he continued after surviving surgery for lung cancer.
Gene was an admired and dedicated teacher and coach. Under his guidance, the Fullerton High School baseball team was a powerhouse, winning a CIF championship in 1978 and falling one game short of another in 1982. He was named Coach of the Year in 1983 by the California Coaches Association. Most meaningful to him were the lasting relationships formed with his players, many of whom kept in touch periodically after he retired from teaching.
In 1982 Gene moved his family to Chico. There he began a new chapter of his life. This busy semi-retirement included serving as an assistant baseball coach at CSU, Chico 1982-83 and teaching part-time at Butte Community College.
In 1984 he began producing wood sculptures and after some success, began working with a foundry to make the bronze sculptures for which he became known. His work was shown in many galleries, particularly along the west coast and in Arizona.
The family continued to spend part of each summer at Lake Cascade, Idaho where Gene had (almost single-handedly) built a small cabin in 1972. In later years, he gave up sculpting, but continued to paint even in his final weeks.
Two of his brothers, Pat and Dennis, predeceased him. He is survived by his brother Larry (Michaele), and by his adoring family members: Maria, sons Joseph (Erika) and Daniel, daughters Andrea Windom, Susan Chiodo (Max), and Christa Martin (Geoff Katz), as well as grandsons Nathan Bickart, Alessandro Chiodo, Lorenzo Chiodo, Luciano Chiodo, and sister-in-law Margaret Juhnke.
A mass will be held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chico on August 11 at 10:00 am to honor a life well lived.
Published by Chico Enterprise-Record on Aug. 11, 2021.