A teacher, a firefighter, a writer, a photographer, a singer and avid churchgoer.

For all of his community involvement and constant presence around Woolwich Township, Allen D. Martin has received the Ontario Long-Term Care Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

On May 6, Martin’s family members, friends and more, gathered at his home at the Barnswallow Place Care Community to honour his contribution to the betterment of the Elmira area.

His wife, Pauline, says the day was a bit overwhelming for her and for Allen, seeing the large crowd of people who attended the award presentation. Martin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 20 years ago, and Pauline spoke for him.

“Some of his family is here. A couple of brothers, my sisters and my brother are here. It is great. He deserves it, that’s for sure,” she said ahead of the presentation. “He spent a lot of years. It is very touching. It is emotional. The thing is, for him, he remembers these people better than some he saw yesterday. He hasn’t seen some of these people for years. It is hard for him to say, but he is pretty excited and he was excited the day before when he found out.”

Barnswallow’s recreation manager, Paula Osborne, gave a quick summary of the many different initiatives he has been involved in over the past 50 years.

“Allen’s interests, as everyone knows, includes music. He has been a lifelong singer; he sang with a couple of groups: The Gospel Tones as well as his brothers as The Martin Brothers, and the Gospel Crusaders. His photography side business, too, he went to 78 weddings – that’s a lot of weekends. Allen has an eye for a variety of subjects including landscapes,” she said. “Allen was also, I understand, very talented in the Scrabble department, attending the All-Ontario competition. He was also a fisherman and he liked to go with his friends on the French River, where he once caught a 24-inch pickerel.

“He also liked woodworking, and taught woodworking as well. It should also be mentioned that Allen was very community minded, volunteering with the Floradale fire department for 27 years. He has also been very involved in his church serving as choir director, elder and boy’s club leader.”

Just one of the albums Allen martin recorded over the years was with the Gospel Crusaders. It was recorded with his future wife, and other family members. Here, the group on the cover gets together for one more band picture.[Liz Bevan / The Observer]
Just one of the albums Allen martin recorded over the years was with the Gospel Crusaders. It was recorded with his future wife, and other family members. Here, the group on the cover gets together for one more band picture. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

Martin also lent his time writing the My Side of the Dam column for the Woolwich Observer for some eight years after the paper’s 1996 launch. He served on the Doon Pioneer Village board and has worked with the Waterloo Heritage Society for many years. He worked as a teacher in Linwood, Elora and Elmira over his 33-year career, and was involved in too many community groups and organizations to list.

“Clearly, folks, this is a lifetime that we are celebrating here: full of accomplishments and experiences. After hearing all of this, I think what everyone really wants to know is: when did you have the time? Did you ever sleep?” Osborne asked Martin, prompting laughs from around the room.

Many of Martin’s friends and family spoke to the crowd, sharing stories, usually funny stories, of Martin’s time in Elmira and beyond.

The award has been given to a deserving resident in Ontario’s long term care homes since 1986, and only one resident is selected from each member home.

“It was really hard for us to pick just one,” said Osborne.