Add Grand Marshal for man who has done it all

bferry@timesobserver.com

Most volunteer firefighters in Warren County who want to participate in Warren’s 4th of July Parade can ride on department vehicles.

After 71 years in the Russell Volunteer Fire Department, selling Fourth of July grand prize tickets all the while, Bill Martin is getting a different opportunity.

Friday, at age 93, Martin will take his first turn as parade Grand Marshal.

“I have been quite active in Warren County all my life,” Martin said.

A graduate of Russell High School, Martin has been involved in everything from athletics to agriculture to politics – sportsmen’s and service clubs – in the county.

He played baseball in the county leagues and has stuck with the programs. “I’ve always been active in sports,” he said, “kids leagues all the way up. I’ve managed the over-30 league for probably 20 years.”

Martin grew up on a farm and was involved in FFA – known then as Future Farmers of America.

In 1942, Martin was drafted and, like men his age all over the country and the world, served during World War II.

After his service he worked in the bottled gas business with Satterlunds for 33 years. Then he worked in the sales department at Midtown Motors.

In 1980, Martin was elected to be a Warren County commissioner.

He has been a member of Pine Grove Sportsmen’s Club for 55 years.

He was a member of the Lions Club for 35 years.

Through all the changes over the years, one thing stayed the same. “I’ve been a member of the Russell Fire Department for 71 years,” he said. “I started selling tickets back when I first joined – 1943.”

Although Fourth of July Events General Chairman Wally Post has known Martin for years, he’d never really gotten to know him. They recently had a chance to chat at length.

“Once I got done talking to him, I said, ‘There’s the Grand Marshal,'” Post said. “He’s very deserving.”

“I appreciate it,” Martin said. “Makes you feel good that they think about you.”