Donny Martin has lived a life of service

Published 1:58 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Reaching 80 years of age is a cause for celebration, but for Donny Martin of Clanton and his family, the day will be extra momentous.

Martin was born with Cerebral Palsy, and doctors did not expect him to have a long life.

“Donny was not supposed to live past seven years old, and here he is about to turn 80,” Mary Mell Smith, Martin’s sister, said. “He was never supposed to walk, and he has. He has raised a family and he’s been married … His wife died about three years ago.”

The family is inviting the community to share in the celebration at First Baptist Church’s Christian Life Center on Aug. 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Martin said he does not want any presents at the party, but birthday cards would be all right.

“The community just loves him, they really do,” Smith said.

Martin is the oldest of four siblings and has lived in Chilton County his entire life. Martin said the people are what he has enjoyed most about living here.

Giving back and serving the community are important to Martin.

“My grandmother raised me and taught me to help people,” Martin said.

For his 80th birthday, he is most looking forward to spending time with people.

“I love people,” Martin said

He joined the Chilton County Rescue Squad in 1957 while a junior in high school. Although he has not been able to be as active in recent years, the squad made him a life member for his service.

“He received his Eagle Scout Award in 1953 and was the youngest Eagle Scout at that time,” according to Martin’s bio.

Martin officially joined the family business, Martin Funeral Home, when he was 18. He is vice president and part-owner of the company.

He is a member of the Clanton Lions Club and continues to attend meetings and volunteer at events. Martin said he joined the club after his father, a founding members of the club, died, and a Lions member asked Martin to join. He has been a member for more than 55 years.

According to his bio, “Donny was voted Lion of the Year in 1989 to 1990 and 1994 to 1995.”

He has also received the Melvin Jones Award and served as president of the club from 2003 to 2004.

Smith said Martin has been an inspiration “not only to the community, but to his family.”

“He told me one time, ‘I’ve never known what’s it’s like not to climb uphill,'” Smith said. “He doesn’t think of himself as having a disability.”

For nearly 17 years, Martin was the chairman of the Cerebral Palsy Drive of Chilton County. Each year, he led the group to collect more than they had the previous year.

Martin has also given back to the community by donating blood. He has donated 20 gallons of blood and served on the Red Cross board of directors for eight years.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 1997 Citizen of the Year award from the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce. As a result of this award, a scholarship was created in his honor at Chilton County High School, his alma mater.