By Kristian Rasmussen
Shuswap Band members are in mourning following the sudden death of council member and community leader, Randy Martin. Mr. Martin, 39, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, May 9th, during a trip to Las Vegas.
The loving father and dedicated baseball coach was a leading member of the Shuswap Indian Band, where he had served on council since November 2010. He was also a familiar face around town due to his work for Kinbasket Development Corporation as utility operator for water and sewers.
Above all, the community leader will be remembered for his kindness, said Sierra Stump, Mr. Martin’s partner, with whom he has a six-year-old son, Gage.
“That guy had the biggest heart around,” Ms. Stump said. “He would do anything to help anybody, whether it was the people on his reserve, or his friends in California whom he graduated high school with.”
Mr. Martin completed high school in California because of his uncanny ability to throw, which led him into the sport of baseball.
“When he was a baby they evaluated him in the States,” said his mother, Pamela Martin. “Randy wasn’t even a year old and could throw a ball overhand. He grew up on the baseball field with his dad and his uncles.”
Mr. Martin completed high school in Corona, California, and went on to play baseball for the high school state champion team. After his success in the States, he returned to the Columbia Valley and played alongside his father, Dean Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Kinbasket Development Corporation, on the Arrows fastball team.
The legendary First Nation baseball team racked up a string of championships titles throughout the 1980s and ‘90s. The Arrows pulled in seven Canadian Native Championship titles, three of which were won in a row.
“There are not too many times when a dad idolizes his son, but I sure do,” Dean Martin said.
Randy’s devotion to sports was dwarfed only by his love for his family and the Shuswap Band, his family members agree.
“What he would tell every Band member or kid was, ‘go to work, get your education,’” Dean said. “Education is the only way that we are going to move forward as a people.”
When he was running for the position of councillor at the Shuswap Band’s bi-annual elections in October 2010, Mr. Martin went above and beyond to include all community members, Ms. Stump said. Mr. Martin had to campaign against 13 other political hopefuls to earn his spot on council.
“Randy wrote every single Band member a letter,” she stated. “He said ‘I am running for council’ and laid out what he wanted to do.”
But Mr. Martin’s dreams for the Columbia Valley were not limited to the Shuswap people, Dean Martin said. “He was a community member. When he did things it was for everybody.”
Mr. Martin wanted to give his son Gage all the opportunities that he had growing up and was willing to make sacrifices for his family.
“When little league was scrubbed here he was willing to take his boy all the way to Cranbrook, just so that he could have that extracurricular activity.”
A celebration of life for Mr. Martin was held on Thursday, May 17th at the former Golden Timber Frames building. Instead of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Canadian Diabetes Association.