Bennie D. Martin

Bennie D. Martin 

Bennie D Martin, devoted husband, loving father, lifelong educator, and a man principled in and guided by faith, passed away Thursday, May 5 at Christian Healthcare Center in Lynden from complications brought on by Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83 years old.

Bennie was born Bennie Doyle Martin in 1939 in Durant, Oklahoma to parents Otis and Lillie Martin. 

The youngest of Otis and Lillie’s five children, Bennie spent his childhood in and around the Durant area, where his closest sibling, Jean, looked after, cared for, and forged a lifelong bond that remained up until Bennie’s passing, or as Jean lovingly called him bro.

After graduating from Durant High School, Bennie enlisted in the United States Army, where he was stationed in Germany, and was able to see parts of Europe vastly different from the small town of Durant. One may think this would be something Bennie could only have dreamt of as a child in Durant, but as Bennie would later describe it, “ I just went where the Army told me.”

After fulfilling his active enlisted duties, Bennie returned to Oklahoma where he enrolled at SE Oklahoma State University and continued his military service in the National Guard as a Staff Sargent.

While studying for his eventual degree in Teaching, Bennie was introduced to his future wife Patricia “Pat” Lemons on a blind date set up by his childhood friend Joe Maxey. 

Two years later, with his BA in teaching and Masters in education along with Pat’s degree in teaching, Bennie and Pat were married in a small ceremony in Durant, Oklahoma.

With their nuptials fresh in hand, Bennie and Pat moved to Porum, Oklahoma for their first teaching jobs.

After then moving to Fort Smith, Arkansas for a second teaching assignment, Bennie and Pat decided on a move of a lifetime in 1968 to Anchorage, Alaska, or as Bennie would later say, “I just go where Pat tells me,” to teach high school AP English and coach various levels of boys and girls basketball.

It was there that Bennie and Pat would stay for the next 18 years, and be reunited with Bennie’s childhood friend Joe Maxey and his wife Connie.

Bennie and Joe enjoyed the Alaskan outdoors, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and even bowling with their wives in a local bowling league were urban legend has it, fun was actually had in the absence of an outline or syllabus (this urban legend has not been confirmed by the author at the time of publication). 

Bennie and Pat had two children during their time in Alaska, first Chad William, and later on in unexpected and surprising fashion, Gregory Alan. 

In 1986, at the age of 47, Bennie retired from teaching and moved the family to Lynden where he would remain until his time of passing.

Ever the coach and teacher, Bennie coached various levels of boys basketball at Lynden Christian High School and later Blaine High School where he also coached boys and girls JV golf.

In addition to being a coach and educator, Bennie was a constant learner and was always up for meaningful conversations or debate.

Some in his family thought he would be happy to spend the entire day in a library without a second thought.

Bennie also enjoyed playing golf with his two sons and local mens group, as well as singing anywhere, and for anyone as his love of music and hymns was a lifelong passion.

Although Bennie was well educated and had seen and read about the world, a traveler he was not. This was best exemplified by Bennie getting lost from his family during Expo ‘86 in Vancouver, British Columbia in the men’s restroom. However, Bennie was ever the planner and had a prearranged meeting spot for just such an event and was reunited with his family hours later were he confidently proclaimed, “I wasn’t lost, I knew exactly where I was.” 

Bennie is survived by his wife Pat, children Chad William and Gregory Alan, grandchildren Jordan Ashley, Cade Wyatt, Noah Phoenix, great-grandchild Diana Jo and his sister Jean. 

Bennie was proceeded in death by his siblings Valerie, Mildred, and Weldon. 

Bennie’s family would like to say a heartfelt and special thank you to all the caregivers and administrators at the Silverado Bellingham Memory Care Community and the Christian Healthcare Center in Lynden for their care of Bennie in his later stages of Alzheimer’s.

Their care and support for Bennie and his family was exemplary, compassionate, and most of all, patient. A public visitation for Bennie Martin will be at Gillies Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 11 from 5-7 p.m.

The Graveside Committal will be Thursday, May 12 at 1:15 p.m. at Greenwood Cemetery followed by a Memorial services at 2 p.m. at First Christian Reformed Church in Lynden with a small reception held afterwards in the church’s basement.

Any donations should be made to Dementia Support Northwest at Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Gillies Funeral Home and Cremation Services.