Obituary: David Martin

Educator, loving father, lifelong learner

David Martin, who taught for many years at Bonita High School and later at Citrus College, died on September 27, 2016. He was 90.

He was born in Longmont, Colorado on August 13, 1926 where his parents and two brothers were enjoying the beauty of Estes Park. His parents were Hiram Clay Martin and Stella Noe Martin, both successful professionals from St. Louis, Missouri. He was six years younger than his second brother, Robert Martin. His oldest brother was Hiram Clay Martin, Jr. The three boys and their parents returned to St. Louis where Hiram attended Westminster College—Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech while he was there.

David emulated his older brother Robert, who was a bomber pilot during World War II, and signed up for the draft as soon as he was 18 to become part of what is now considered the Greatest Generation. He went as a sergeant first class to Okinawa where he was fired upon and had to have shrapnel removed. He fought on for a time, but was grateful that the atomic bombing shortened the war. The good that came of his service personally was in receiving the GI Bill.

He went to the University of Missouri, then transferred to Washington University, St. Louis where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and political science. He retained a lifelong loyalty to his alma mater and was looking forward to the Clinton/Trump debate that was being given at Washington University. While he didn’t quite make it, at least Mr. Martin, always politically involved, got to see the first debate the night before his death, his family noted. 

He taught high school in Missouri, but in 1961 left the Show-Me State to join many of his relatives in California. He settled in Claremont where he lived for a time on Harrison Avenue in a back house belonging to the senior Zetterbergs. He found a job at Bonita High School in La Verne, teaching history, political science and American government. He is remembered as being very passionate about his subject matter, a trait that remained unchanged until the moment of his passing. The job enabled him to buy his first house as a single man, a new Lewis home on Edwin Avenue in Pomona. He was now preparing for the era of wife and children.

He married Bette Woodward Oliver, a lifelong Claremonter, at Webb Chapel on August 11, 1965. His new wife was a fellow teacher who worked in the Ontario School District. David adopted Bette’s 4-year-old daughter Adrienne Allison Oliver. Mr. Martin became a father for the first time at age 41, much to his delight, when two years later Adrienne welcomed a baby sister named Allison Victoria. Twenty-two months later, John Sterling Martin joined the family to make it complete. Mr.?Martin had definite views about how to parent.

Through the decades, he determined to teach and mold and mentor each of his three children. He did this with love and kindness, gentle correction, lots of praise and always a glittering sense of humor. He was also fatherly to many who sought him out for advice, and became more philosophical as time went on.

Mr. Martin enjoyed teaching at Bonita and he often went climbing at Mt. Baldy with his students. Later, his work as president of the Bonita Unified Teachers Association occupied much of his time. He was responsible for attaining the right for female teachers to wear pantsuits, and worked on a variety of issues such as maternity leave. He later became a valued member and then president of the California Teachers Association, performing contract negotiation as well as holding an office in NEA.

Mr. Martin moved the family to Upland in 1973 and helped provide them with a beautiful new Lewis home on Springfield Way. His children all graduated from Upland High School. David’s values always included giving his children a great spirit of learning. He was a hungry lifetime learner himself and expected the same of his children. He was considered a font of knowledge by family and friends, and remained relevant in all of his career subjects until the day he died. He was also a lover of fine music and so knowledgeable he practiced conducting, to the delight of his children. He tried never to miss a performance by the Pomona Concert Band.

It was music that taught his soul who he was, according to family.

After his tenure at Bonita High School, he became a political science professor at Citrus until his retirement. At the time of death, he lived in Claremont Villas and regularly attended Claremont United Methodist Church with Bette. As a child, he attended Grace Methodist Church in St. Louis and remained Methodist all his life. He loved the organ music as well as the message.

He was a friend to all and loved taking snapshots of people, later sending the framed photos as gifts to the subjects. He wrote loving and encouraging letters to all he met. He loved giving small gifts to show his appreciation for the slightest kindness. Even in ill health, he exhibited courage, a great smile and a willingness to help others, whether in making apple pie or offering any of his limited resources.

“He had the bluest eyes, the kindest heart and the sharpest mind,” his daughter Adrienne said. 

One of his greatest joys in later life was having a grandson who turned 10 on the day he died. Zachary David Martin was worthy of carrying on the Martin name into the future, a legacy Mr. Martin so desired. He is survived by Bette; by his daughters, Adrienne Martin DeAngelis and her husband Dr. Paul DeAngelis and Allison Martin and her significant other Matthew Harrison; by his son John Martin; by his grandson Zachary and by numerous cousins.

A celebration of David’s life will be held on Saturday, October 8 at 11 a.m. at Claremont United Methodist Church, located at 211 W. Foothill Blvd. in Claremont. All are welcome.

His final resting place will be in the Memorial Wall at his beloved Claremont church where he has been a member for 55 years. 




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