GC’s longest serving employee, Kennard Martin, dies at age 78

Last Wednesday, Goshen College campus mourned the loss of Kennard Martin, the longest-serving employee at GC, during what would have been his 58th work anniversary.

Martin passed away on Aug. 29 at Borgess-Pipp Hospital in Plainwell, Michigan. His funeral took place Thursday, Sep. 5, at Harvest Community Church, where he was a long-time member.

Martin was born to parents Melvin and Mary (Stahl) Martin on Oct. 23, 1940, in Peru, Indiana.

After declaring to be a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war, Martin came to Goshen College on Sept. 5, 1961 at the age of 20. He was given a 1-W status that allowed him to do service work at the dining hall, instead of joining the military.

Martin worked at the dining hall for two years before spending 20 years doing custodial and grounds work for the Athletic Department. He then continued to serve the college by mowing the laws and plowing snow as a member of Physical Plant’s grounds crew.

During the 2011-12 school year, GC recognized Martin’s 50 years of service during the opening convocation. The focus of the year was the core value of servant leadership. President at the time, Jim Brenneman, highlighted Martin’s years of servant leadership and named the school year, “The Year of Kennard Martin, Leader in Service.” The room filled with students and colleagues gave him a standing ovation.

Martin took pride in making the campus look nice and keeping it safe during the winter for students, faculty and staff.

Craig Johnson, physical plant grounds supervisor, said, “Dedicating 58 years of your life to any institution or work place is unheard of — and yet dedication and reliability were Kennard’s strongest characteristics.”

“He was always very friendly and willing to give me a smile each day,” said senior Colby Malson who worked with Martin at the physical plant during the past two summers.

Johnson said that Martin was often referred to as “the man on the mower” by students.

“Everyone knew who he was,” Johnson said.

Glenn Gilbert, director of facilities at the college worked with Martin at physical plant for 29 years.

“Kennard always had a positive attitude and was always willing to do what needed to be done, whether it was mow in the rain or get up at 3 a.m. to shovel snow off the sidewalks.” Gilbert said. “He was proud of the longevity of his service and would have derived satisfaction from being able to be a Goshen College employee right up to the end.”

Martin is survived by his wife, Christine (Schlemmer) Martin; daughter, Maria (Lester) Shisler, Goshen; son, Bryan Martin, Snohomish, Washington; three grandchildren, Rosie, Kayleigh and Allie Shisler; and two brothers, Arvid (Mireya) Martin, Temple Terrace, Florida, and Eldon (Marcia) Martin, Mentone.

Online condolences may be shared at www.yoderculpfuneralhome.com.

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