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A Martian forever: Al Martus remembered



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July 20, 2011 - For more than two decades, Athletic Director Al Martus guided Goodrich Martians on the field.

On July 18, the stellar leader, who had a career highlighted by eight state championships, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 66.

Martus was born in Brown City, Mich. on March 10, 1945, the son of Robert and Dorothy (Mabery) Martus.

A Brown City native and 1963 Brown City High School graduate, Martus attended Olivet College where he received a bachelor of arts degree in social studies in 1968. In 1973 he earned a master's degree in administration from Eastern Michigan University.

After college, Martus worked at Brandon High School where he taught social studies and physical education from 1968-1974.

From 1974 to 1986 he served as principal and athletic director at Peck High School.

Martus came to Goodrich High School in 1986 as athletic director and assistant principal. His retirement in 2010 from Goodrich came after his diagnosis of cancer. It was the second battle with cancer for Martus, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease at 26-years-old.

Goodrich Varsity Football Coach Tom Alward worked with Martus for more than 18 years.

"Al was a good friend, a mentor and always there for us," said Alward. "Al would do what he could to help or would have no problem asking help from us—that's the main reason Goodrich was so successful."

"Al would get excited as we pushed through the playoffs," said Alward. "I remember the first time we made the playoffs—he went hand in hand with us through it. When it came to the students, Al was a great role model. He kept the kids on the straight and narrow. He'd bring them in for a chat. He never gave up on anyone. One way or another, Al would find a way to help kids."

In 2002, a memorial scholarship was established to honor Al's son, Ryan Martus, a Flint police officer who died in a hunting accident.

Martus was recognized in 2004 by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association for completing 30 years of service as an athletic director. In April 2007 Martus was admitted to Genesys Regional Medical Center after suffering a heart attack. He returned to work later that year.

Bob Foreback, Goodrich High School counselor and varsity baseball coach for 17 seasons, said Martus handled all with respect.

"Al took a chance on me in my first year," said Foreback, who took the Martians to three final four baseball championships.

"I came into this job as a counselor and the JV boys basketball coach. That was my interview for the baseball coach job—he was watching me not only as a coach, but also as a person. That's what Al looked at—not only the knowledge of the sport, but how you related to the kids. That was Al's best quality."

"He was dedicated to the school and a good friend. Al had a lot of tragedies in his life and gave many hours to Goodrich."

Surviving are mother, Dorothy; ex-wife and friend, Kaye Martus; brothers and sisters, Elizabeth Nordin, Irene (Wayne) LaPointe, Raymond (Kathleen), Mary Ellen (Ken) Miller, Louis (Terry), Denise (Steve) Frost, Warren (Diane), Wayne (Kelly) and Dan (Angie); 23 nieces and nephews; 29 great-nieces and nephews; three aunts, Irene Bartz, Maureen Ford and Ruth Mabery; many close devoted friends, especially "The Team." He was preceded in death by his father, Robert, and son, Ryan Martus.

He was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Davison.

A funeral Mass was celebrated July 22 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Davison. Father Andrew A. Czajkowski officiated. Burial in St. Mary's Burnside Cemetery in North Branch, Mich.

Those desiring may make contributions to the Ryan Martus Scholarship Fund.

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