July 25, 1952 – February 21, 2015
MORE than 400 people paid tribute to former New Norfolk newsagent Leigh Martin, filling St Matthew’s Anglican Church to overflowing for his funeral last Friday. All sectors of the Derwent Valley community were represented, including business, civic and sporting, as well as long-term friends and customers and representatives of the Mercury and The Gazette. Those seated in a marquee outside the church were able to see the entire funeral service on a large television screen.
Leigh Douglas Martin was the youngest child of the late Lance and Amy Martin, of Glenorchy. At the time of his birth in July 1952, his brother Garry was 11 years old and his sister Carol was eight. “Carol remembers her little snowy-haired brother bringing so much joy and love into their home,” the Reverend Celia Hooker said while delivering the eulogy. “This little fellow was the apple of his mother’s eye … his dad called him Wick and he became his right hand man,” Mrs Hooker said.
Leigh attended Glenorchy Primary School and Claremont High, and although he wasn’t a particularly keen student he was the leader of the pack and always had friends around. “Even as a child he didn’t have a lazy bone in his body and this never changed,” Mrs Hooker said. “He loved going wood-hooking with his dad [and] there was one occasion when his dad was not well and stayed in the truck. Aged about 14, Leigh cut 10 ton of wood and drove the truck back home. Even up to recent times, Leigh’s favourite tool was the chainsaw.”
On leaving school Leigh found work as an apprentice printer at Cadburys, where he met Pauline Excell who worked in the factory’s film room. They married at St Mary’s Church in Springfield in 1971 and eldest son Mathew was born in the same year. Four decades later the couple would still be seen holding hands. “Pauline said Leigh could roar like a lion but in actual fact he was a cuddly teddy bear with a heart of gold,” Mrs Hooker said.
Leigh was working hard in those early years of the 1970s. As well as his job at Cadburys he worked nights at a printery and was in the Army Reserves. He eventually left Cadburys and bought a concrete truck and worked hard at that business for about two years. Younger son Andrew was born in 1977 and it was at this time that Leigh took over the Claremont Newsagency which he ran for three years before joining his brother Garry and Mary in the New Norfolk Newsagency. Leigh and Pauline took over the business in 1992 and ran it for more another 20 years until passing it on to Mathew and Leoni in 2013.
As the boys grew up, Leigh took them to their sports but his real passion was to take them fishing and camping. He was in the gun club, served as a justice of the peace and was a member of the Rotary Club. He enjoyed golf and playing cards. For a number of years Leigh was the organiser of the Christmas giveaways that drew thousands of people into High St and he was always supportive of local authors and locally-produced books, generously providing prime shelf space in the shop.
In the last decade or so he enjoyed building townhouses and units with Rob Wardlaw and Paul Clark. A tribute from Mr Wardlaw was read at the funeral service, describing a 35-year partnership in fishing, camping, property development and friendship. “Our fishing trips were planned weeks in advance, right down to a full menu for the whole week. ‘Leroy’ loved his cooking and nobody was allowed anywhere near the kitchen or barbecue,” Mr Wardlaw recalled. “We would quite often stir Leroy about pre-heating the dinner plates – you would either burn your hands or the placemat. I can finally tell Leroy now that everyone else did know how to cook – we just couldn’t get a look in.”
Other tributes were paid by Leigh’s niece Michelle Ryan, son Andrew, and brother-in-law and fishing mate John Excell. Mrs Hooker said she hoped Leigh’s strength during the difficult times of his illness would be remembered with admiration. “He continued to display an amazing positive attitude. When he was being driven home for the last time he saw people picking blackberries on the side of the road and told Pauline that they needed to pick some too,” Mrs Hooker said.
Leigh Martin is survived by his wife Pauline, sons Mathew and Andrew and their families.