The Valentine Birthday Boy - Owen Lee Martin
My Brother Was Born on Valentine's Day
Owen Lee Martin was born in Emporia, Kansas on February 14, 1946. For Gail Lee (McGhee) and Clyde Owen Martin, Owen was their first child. Eventually Owen would have five sisters (Susan, Virginia, Cynthia, Karen and Shannon).
Notice that Owen's name was a clever combination of my mom and dad's middle names. Of course, they doted on their Valentine's Day baby.
If you knew Owen, you'll enjoy the photos showing different stages in his life. If you didn't know him, I think you'll find him an interesting guy.
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Owen Lee Martin.... Little Boy - Click on each photo to see it larger and to read the captionsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Owen - The Boy ScoutClick thumbnail to view full-size
Owen Martin... the Scout
Owen did the usual boy activities like cub scouts. Mom was the den mother and planned activities for them like making animal head slides out of plaster of paris to pull their yellow scout kerchiefs through. There were bear heads and wolf heads.
At Christmas time, they painted nativity set figurines made of plaster of paris. The camels were a problem with their long skinny necks. I remember Mom putting a toothpick in the neck of the camel molds to try to strengthen them. Another time, the boy scouts took a train trip. The sisters got to go along for the experience.
Owen Martin in the ArmyClick thumbnail to view full-size
I've written a series of tributes to the men in my family who served in the military. The earlier articles honored Civil War and World War One veterans. The one featured here is more recent.
He is my older brother and he left college to enlist in the army during the time of the Vietnam War. Many of his friends were drafted but the thinking was that by enlisting he would have more choice of how he would serve.
Fortunately he ended up spending much of his enlistment in Germany where he was safe from the horrors that soldiers experienced in Vietnam. It was a happy day in our family when his four years ended and he returned to Kansas and to college.
When he first went into the U.S. Army, he trained at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri. This photo shows Owen with a friend in Germany where he was stationed during the Vietnam War. We all felt so relieved that he wasn't sent to Nam.
The Gazebo That Owen Built
Owen Martin....Master Carpenter
After being in the service during the Vietnam War era, Owen returned to college. His major was engineering, but he thought about switching to teaching. He ended up not completing the degree and took a drafting job. Later he decided he wanted a hands-on kind of job and took up carpentry.
He built many custom cabinets for luxurious kitchens in the El Dorado area. This picture shows the gazebo he built in a park in El Dorado. You can see his carpentry in the lobby of the Susan B. Anthony Hospital in El Dorado and in J. Bryan's Pub in El Dorado.
Owen Made Trunks for All of His Sisters One Christmas
Owen the Woodworker
My brother, Owen, loved working with wood. At Christmas, it was a great treat to see what he had made that year. Once it was a wonderful walnut frame for a large mirror. That looks great on the wall. Another time he made wooden frames for hand mirrors.
The time he really outdid himself was the Christmas with the small humpbacked trunks. I can't imagine how he found the time after his full day's work as a carpenter. Somehow he did and his gift was a big hit.
Making a trunk doesn't seem like that big of a deal until you take into consideration that Owen had 5 sisters and our mom on his gift list. That year, he also made handcrafted wooden gifts for some of his nieces as well.
Do you have a woodworker in your family? I hope so.
Owen .... the Reader - He's a John McDonald Fan, Particularly the Travis McGee Stories
I've never read any Travis McGee mysteries but my brother is a fan and so were Mom and Dad.
Another Favorite Author of Owen's Is Dick Francis
If you are a fan of horse racing and of mysteries, then these are the books for you. Owen sure enjoys them.
Owen Martin with His Essex That He Fixed Up
Read More about Owen's Yellow Essex
- The Yellow Essex
My brother, Owen Martin, loved to tinker with cars. Over the years, he restored many old cars into showy street rods, but I think the love of his life was his 1929 Essex. He actually ended up restoring it several times, changing the configuration...
Owen and the Car Club
Owen usually went to El Dorado on Tuesday evenings. His sister, Susan, picked him up from Whitewater and they come back to El Dorado for supper, usually at True Lies or wherever the car club is eating that evening. He really enjoyed getting to visit with his car buddies.
On summer weekends, he was often free-wheeling in his motorized wheelchair at some of the car shows around Kansas.
Owen Martin ... Car Buff - Click on any photo to see it larger & to read the captionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Owen Martin.....Stroke Survivor
Some years ago, Owen had heart surgery in Wichita for heart valve replacement, followed by an episode of cardiac arrest at his parent's, after which he had a defibrillator implanted to prevent it from happening again. He survived that and following lots of rehab, was able to return to work. Then he suffered a stroke at his home in El Dorado in 2006.
Since then, he put a lot of effort into regaining the ability to walk. Mostly he had to use a wheelchair but could walk a short distance with some difficulty. The paralysis was on his left side. He lived after that at Wheat State Manor in Whitewater, Kansas.
Owen Martin - October 2009 (at his mother's book signing party)
The Many Faces of Owen Martin
It was fun bringing out all the vintage photos and to see all the changes in hair styles over the years. As you can see, sometimes he wore a mustache, sometimes a beard and sometimes neither.
Here's a challenge for you: Can you put the photos in order by age? Which is the youngest and which is the most recent?
Owen's Photo Gallery - Click to enlarge any photo of Owen MartinClick thumbnail to view full-size
I'm sorry to report that Owen Lee Martin passed away in January 2020.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Virginia Allain