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Orville Martin

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Thomas “Orville” Martin was born on Christmas Day, in 1938, at home on the family farm in Elderslie Township to proud parents, Ernest and Mernie Ann (McCoy) Martin. He was the fourth of five children, joining older siblings Verna (1925), Doreen (1935), and Reta (1937), with Mernie Ann following in 1947. Sadly, Orville’s mother died during childbirth and little Mernie Ann was named after her. Tragically, little Mernie Ann died several months later in infancy.

The Martin family called a mixed farm on the 10th of Elderslie at Sideroad 10 home. The children attended school just down the road, however, Orville did not pursue high school as he needed to stay home and help his father on the farm. The Martin family had beef cattle, pigs, and dairy, whereby the family separated the cream themselves and delivered it to Paisley for sale. Given his young age, Orville obtained special insurance, as he was still not 16, so he could help his dad with these deliveries. Ernest was diagnosed with cancer in 1953, when Orville was only 15, dying three years later in March of 1956.

After Ernest’s death, Orville enrolled in the Army, hoping to see the world. It was May of 1956 and due to his age, he had to hang onto the farm until he was twenty-one years of age. His uncles, Percy and Harvey McCoy farmed and cared for the land in Orville’s absence. Orville spent the next three years in The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) stationed at Wolseley Barracks (London, Ontario). During this period of his life, Orville became very close with his aunt and uncle, Percy, and Emily McCoy, and often spent weekends off at their home. On one such visit in 1957, Orville attended a local dance and was introduced to a young woman by the name of Dorothy Alice Ewen. Needless to say, the visits home were regular after that, and the young couple often wrote to each other to stay in touch. During his time with the Army, Orville trained throughout Canada but never was deployed – something that always disappointed him. He was discharged in 1959, and the young couple were wed the following year at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesley on Saturday, April 30, 1960.

At this time Orville was working in construction in the London area, however, the Martin clan soon began to grow with the arrivals of Brent (1960), Steve (1963) and Lee-Ann (1965). After a short time living above the Dairy in Chesley, the Martins soon called 4th Ave. S.W. in Chesley home. Orville was working at Heirloom Furniture at this time but soon began training in the medical field. In 1969, Orville became a paramedic, where he started his career in Owen Sound. This was followed by three years in Hanover, before being transferred to Chesley where he remained for the duration of his career. Orville was loved and respected by his colleagues, always looking to help out and provide a helping hand wherever needed. It was during this period of his life that two life-long friendships (and partnerships at work) with Don Janke and Morris Emke developed. Orville dedicated 32 years of his life to his vocation. It truly was his passion, and his gentle, caring personality helped make him the wonderful man he was. When not busy as a paramedic, Orville also helped Jim and Dan McFadden, as well as the Cameron’s at the funeral home. He formally retired on January 1, 1999, and began to slow down a little, settling into retirement.

Although considered a workaholic by many, including his family, Orville enjoyed the occasional downtime. When the kids were young, he could often be found coaching baseball or helping as a trainer for one of the hockey teams. In the late 60’s he became a member of the Chesley Fire Department, eventually holding the position of secretary/treasurer. He remained in this volunteer role until the early 1980’s. He was a very active community member when the old Chesley Hospital closed, advocating for local health care before it was reopened again. Orville was always there to lend a helping hand, it didn’t matter if you were a family member, friend, or a complete stranger, he was always more than willing to quit what he was doing to help out. He was also a proud member of the Chesley Legion. Likewise, anyone who knew Orville, knew that he was just a little particular when it came to caring for his lawn… and who could forget his love of snow blowing! He didn’t just include his driveway, but instead those of all his neighbours as well, a task he continued yearly until just last year. Honestly though, Orville loved to tinker and spent countless hours out in the garage doing just that. In fact, I am told on more than one occasion Orville would head out to the garage just to start the stove, before returning to the house to watch the fire (a.k.a. smoke) from the comforts of the house. Ha!

Orville loved animals. It didn’t matter if he was out helping son-in-law Gord with the pigs, or taking Purdy for a walk, or snuggling up with Millie in his chair, if he was around animals, he was happy. Purdy, his Border Collie of sixteen years, was a constant companion and actually started out as his neighbour’s dog, whom Orville originally just volunteered to take for a walk. In more recent years, it was Millie who helped brighten his day, as well as all the other pets within his family. In his limited free time, Orville enjoyed a good Western or War novel. He also loved to watch TV, particularly hockey and baseball games. I am told there was never a hockey fight Orville didn’t like and appreciate! In his retirement, Orville could often be seen out walking the town, but you would normally hear him before you saw him, as he loved to whistle (and was good at it!). He was extremely proud of his multiple tattoos, six in total, and enjoyed a good shot of Crown Royal with the boys. His famous words were, “Don’t be skimpy…” When it came to treating himself, ice cream was his weakness. He wasn’t picky, however there was always one stipulation. NO NUTS!

Becoming a grandfather, and more recently a great-grandfather made Orville very proud. When the kids were younger, Orville and Dorothy were regulars at their sporting and school events. He was also known to give them the occasional ambulance ride, and in recent years loved letting the great-grandchildren test their driving skills on his scooter… he truly treasured every minute he spent with all of them.

In 2007, after 43 years in the same home, Orville and Dorothy relocated to Hanover. Surrounded by family, friends, and neighbours, they enjoyed everything retirement had to offer. Although not big on travel, Orville enjoyed day trips and was often kept company by the radio, and his old country favourites and the likes of Charley Pride, Freddy Fender, and Gene Watson, just to name a few.

Sadly, in the last couple of years Orville struggled with dementia, but thankfully was able to remain at home with the love and support of Dorothy, family, and friends. Orville passed away after a brief illness at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Saturday, April 6, 2024, in his 86th year.

Beloved husband of Dorothy (Ewen). Loving father of Brent (Shona) of Barrie, Steve (Saundra) of Wellesley, and Lee-Ann (Gord) Lang of R.R. #4 Walkerton. Cherished grandfather of Jordan (Cassie), Bronsyn (Ali), Kurt (Kerri), Kori, Landa (Steve), Jodi (David), and Kashtin (Brittany) and great-grandfather of Kaden, Emma, Ava, Corbin, Jorja, Josie, Anna, Tenley, Ivy, AJ, Sadie, and Knox. Orville was predeceased by his sisters Verna (Ross) McFadden, Doreen Calkins, Reta (Al) Parks, and Mernie Ann in infancy and his parents Ernest and Mernie Ann (McCoy) Martin.

Private family services will be held with inurnment to follow in the Chesley Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 144 (Chesley) or Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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