Martin Leaves His Mark On Raymond

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For more than 80 years, dozens of citizens have served the village of Raymond in some capacity or another, whether it be as a clerk, a treasurer, a trustee or a mayor. But throughout those eight-plus decades, there has been one constant, the last name Martin, at least until this Monday's meeting of the village board.

The meeting on May 6 will be the final board meeting for trustee Joe Martin, who decided not to run for re-election after serving the village for more than 50 years, following in the footsteps of his father Bert, who was village clerk for 40 years before passing away in 1974.

"My dad and mom used to live around the corner. So I'd pick up dad and we'd go to the town board meeting, then we'd go across to one of the taverns and have a beer afterwards." Martin said. "I was just interested in being involved with the town and helping the guys."

Martin was first elected to the village board in May of 1959, but has also served Raymond as mayor for one term and clerk, which led to another member of the Martin family becoming involved in local government.

"I told Denny (Held) that I would be the clerk, temporarily, because I had helped mom and dad," said Martin. "But it wasn't long after that I started working on her."

"Her" is Vonnie Martin, Joe's wife, who took over for him as the village clerk and remained there until retiring in May of 2017 after 42 years. 

"He's a good schmoozer. He caught me when I was working at the Carriage House and gave me some line," Vonnie Martin remembers.

"I caught her at a weak moment," Martin adds with a smile.

At the time the two weren't married, but that didn't take long to remedy, with a wedding set for April 22, 1977.

"We talked marriage a little bit.  I wasn't going to marry her until for sure she got the job," Martin said. 

This stops the conversation in its tracks. Even after 42 years of marriage, sometimes there are still secrets.

"You didn't tell me that," Vonnie said. 

"No, I couldn't tell you everything," Joe said. "When I married you we had ten kids. She had six and I had four. We had to feed them somehow. It worked out okay."

It's worked out better than okay for the village of Raymond as both have faithfully served their community. One of Martin's proudest moments was the building of the Shoal Creek Golf Course in 1989, a project with which he took a hands on approach.

"I was hardly home at all for close to a year. I was out there constantly," said Martin, who lives near the nine-hole course and has served as golf course committee chairman since it opened in 1990. "Mark Convery, Danny Hough and Don McWard, we just did all the work. I ran a backhoe and a road grader. We'd go out there every evening. It was a lot of work."

Martin said he'll miss the involvement with the course, but the thing he'll miss most is working with the village employees, many of whom have been there nearly as long as he has.

"The guys, the employees, like Rick (Broaddus) and Mike (Masten). I can't tell you how long they've been there, but they're permanent fixtures," Martin said regarding what he will miss the most. "Tom Irwin, he's retiring (as golf course superintendent). He's put in a lot of hours out there and he's done a real good job."

But in spite of those things that he'll miss, Martin knew that it was time to give it up, especially after a health scare following a heart attack in December of last year.

"I've enjoyed it immensely and I know I'm going to miss it, but I've got to do something," he said.

Martin said that he is still rehabilitating through cardiac therapy in Carlinville, but he hasn't felt any pain or anything since December and counts himself as lucky. 

"Thank God it didn't ruin me. The helicopter ride to Springfield almost did though," Martin added with a laugh.

And Martin's contributions to the village will be missed too, especially by those who have served with him the longest.

"I've been on there since 1977 and he's always been a great board member and fantastic to work with," Mayor Denny Held said. "We got a lot of things going here in Raymond. We built the golf course. We put in a new water tower. We brought Dollar General to town. We've had our disagreements, but it's always been for the good of the town. It's going to be different, not having him there."

It will be different, but thanks to his hard work, reminders of Martin's 50 years of dedication to the village of Raymond are not hard to find and will always be remembered.

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