Monday, November 28, 2011

C. Dean Martin

"That's just crazy!"

These are the words I'd often hear from C. Dean Martin when talking about Whatcom County Planning these past two years.  Dean passed away in his sleep last night.  The cause of death is unknown, but Dean was hit by a car the day before Thanksgiving while crossing Northwest and Illinois.  He suffered four fractures from that accident.

I was fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of working with Dean at Whatcom County.  Dean was hired on in early 2008 as the Senior Planner responsible for the county's agricultural program.  Dean had a great career already, having been a lead conservationist in the State of Missouri (if memory serves me well) and was an elected official.  Dean was passionate about agriculture and passionate about conservation.

And he was passionate about local conservation and good planning.  Since being laid off by the County in June 2010, Dean had volunteered his time through his church (Unitarian), neighborhood (Columbia) and with several local election campaigns.  Dean could be seen answering the door in Christina Maginnis' campaign video, and was a regular volunteer knocking on doors for candidates that supported conservation efforts. 

Dean also challenged Whatcom County on several growth management cases -- and I believe won every one of them.  Last Monday, if Dean was there at the latest Growth Management Hearings Board case, he would have just shook his head when the County said that "rural lands ARE the buffer to agriculture."  That's just crazy. 

Dean's lovely wife, Carol, resides here in Bellingham.  Dean is also survived by two accomplished daughters.  He was a great man, committed conservationist, and friend.  In signing out of any email, this is what Dean had to say:

"The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land"

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and the beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac. 1949.

Thanks for all you did, Dean.  We'll keep up the good fight for conservation, because "its just crazy" not to.


  1. "Stop the madness!" was Dean's other saying about planning in Whatcom County. An imperative for all of us, coming from someone who was "right" in every sense of the word as Aldo Leopold used it.

  2. Just heard this tragic news. I felt privileged to have Dean's support in my campaign, and to have known him as well through BUF. Dean had deep integrity, something much too rare in our world these days. With Dean you never had to guess at the underlying motive for his actions--it was simply doing the right thing, which also meant the environmentally responsible thing.

    Dan Pike

  3. I knew Dean and his accomplishments well as I spent a lot of time helping him hone his resume. He was an amazing man..kind and gentle. He always kept a positive outlook. He will be missed. Michele Waltz

  4. Thank you for this Jean/David. My favorite memory of him was his first day of work. I asked him, "hey, do you sing?" He said, "Nope. And I don't smoke or drink either." I'll never forget his passion and kindness. He worked so hard for good policy in Whatcom County and I loved watching him win at the Growth Management Hearings Board. He was one of the best men I've ever known. I will miss him very much.

  5. I am shocked and saddened by this news. Dean was one our most effective advocates for Whatcom County Ag. land. He was also one hell of a County planner. I learned a lot from the emails and attachments that he sent out to help educate people interested in Ag. issues. He was unique in having strong convictions while still making anyone he dealt with feel comfortable. He will be missed.

    Wendy Harris

  6. His thoughtful, easy manner, his intelligence and his tireless dedication to those ideals that exhalt, rather than diminish, our relationship with the natural world...this was Dean Martin
    He was the personification of the consumate professional and perfect friend.

    He will be greatly missed.

    John Lesow

  7. Thank you David. This is a lovely tribute to a wonderful, kind, and passionate co-worker and friend.

    Sarah Watts

  8. Thanks David for sharing your passionate tribute. I didn't know Dean personally, but knew of his commitment to making our fair community better for all concerned.

  9. I remember Dean from the board of the Columbia Neighborhood Association and as a neighbor of mine. Dean was always there, whether it was a large neighborhood meeting about the coal port, or just the two of us talking about the neighborhood plan. I last saw him at an evening lecture put on by the department of commerce about the growth management act. I asked him if he was there for business or pleasure. He said Oh, mostly pleasure. That's the kind of guy that Dean was, and that I hope to be.

  10. I so admired his commitment to our community. I'm grateful to have worked with him and always loved seeing him at the Farmers Market...much as been lost.

  11. Thanks, David. I know it sounds selfish, but I feel cheated in not having been able to get to Dean better than I did. I do know that he was a passionate, intelligent, strong and quiet man, always there when needed. Like the undertow in a river, you can't always see it, but it runs strong and true. His presence will be very sorely missed and his shoes will be tough to fill, if that's even possible. My heart to Carol. They were like the yin and yang and it's hard to picture one without the other.

    Safe journey, Dean.

    Deb Cruz

  12. The world has lost a kind, compassionate, intelligent, and loving man. Our condolences to Carol.

  13. His warm chuckle. Reminding me not to take things too seriously. His raving about Carol's talent/artistic eye. His love for his brothers and family in the midwest. And his pride in his daughters. His example of living a life of integrity, where work and pleasure are not separate. His encouragement and positive energy. All these things come to mind when I think of Dean. Thanks David for your lovely tribute to him, and providing this space for us to honor his memory.

    Samya Lutz

  14. I think I can speak for all past and present DNR staff here in Missouri....We are very saddened by the loss of such a nice guy. The emails being passed by the staff all express shock and grief. He will be missed.
    Carol, Calla and Natalie we are thinking of you.
    Jim Long

  15. Thank you David/Jean for that insight into Dean's passion for conservation, and to others for the comments that followed. As the sister of one of his sister-in-law's, I knew Dean through family and as one of the "Martin Brother's".....He was always so kind, and laid back....I will always remember Dean with that smile that made me wonder "hmmmm, wonder what he's thinking?"...Carol, Calla, Natalie and "Martin Brothers" you are all in my prayers...Lisa (Mertz) Davenport

  16. He was a great uncle to me... So many memories of him but the one I love best is my first christmas with the martin crew where on christmas day as I was opening my gift he joked that I got toilet paper when really it was a music box.

    I will TERRIBLY miss you uncle Dean D:

  17. What a shock to just hear of Dean's death. He was so positively there at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, at work or as a private citizen in important environmental issues, and in the neighborhood. It was always great to see Carol and him together. You will really be missed, Dean.

  18. Dear family, dear friends,
    I have no words….

    I have not had the privilege of knowing Dean well, but I did have the privilege of meeting up with the Martin’s family this last summer. One can only envy not to be part of them; their bond is so strong, the ethics and kindness seems to have been sprinkled over the brothers and throughout the whole family since early childhood. ..

    Even though I have not had the privilege you all have had, I surely, even after very short contact, feel he, and Carol would have become friends of mine, and thus will stay in my heart forever;

    There is a saying here: ’Those that we loved but are gone, continue to live in our hearts’

    Dean will certainly be one of them…

    My sincere condolences to the whole family

    Anne Degryse

    Domaine de Mirabel


  19. Dear Martin Family,

    Tom and I only met Dean this last summer at Lexi's wedding and remember him being so nice and easy to talk to. You Martin brothers are a lucky bunch to have had such a great bunch of brothers to grow up with and have for best friends - your folks did a great job! Our sincere sympathy to Carol and the girls and to the rest of the Martin family.

    Tom and Linda Froehlich
    Slater, IA