James Wendell “Jack” Martin, of Collins, Mo, died May 17, 2014 at the age of 91 years, 3 months, 3 days. Born on February 14, 1923 in Independence, Mo, to James Hudson Martin and Myrtle May Barnett Martin, the youngest of nine children spanning 24 years. He was raised on the Martin homestead south of Collins, Mo. Jack attended Collins school, excelling at basketball, graduating second in the class of 1941. Jack was a member of the Greatest Generation, joining the Army Air Corps soon after graduation and served as radio operator, bombardier, navigator, B-25 pilot and B-17 pilot. He was united in marriage to Betty Olive Gentry of Roscoe, Mo. on May 20, 1944 at the base chapel while serving in Hondo, Tx. His passing was just three days shy of their 70th anniversary.
After his honorable discharge Jack returned to farming, buying the family farm at Collins from his dad. Three children were born there, Michael Lee, Andrew Wendell, and Laura May. In 1953 Jack went to work in Kansas City for Ford Aviation, then General Motors, and in 1954 he went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Marietta, Ga. He excelled as a flight line mechanic and in 1959 became a Field Service Representative and worked on the C-130 program, then the C-141 program, and finally the C-5 program. Jack retired as the senior Tech Rep for the C-5 aircraft. His many assignments resulted in relocating to California, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Illinois. In the fall of 1962 he spent 6 months in Antarctica supporting ski-equipped C-130's used by the Navy to supply the South Pole research efforts. Part of that assignment included many enjoyable days in New Zealand.
After retirement in 1983, he and Betty returned to the family farm and he embarked on a second career operating J&B Heat and Air installing many water source heat pumps.
He was baptized into the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) in his early teens and was ordained an Elder on July 2, 1967. Jack served his Lord for many years, pastoring the Collins Local.
Jack is remembered as kind, impeccably honest, considerate and sensitive to others, who would cry readily in sympathy with others while enduring his own difficulties. He was also known as very smart, eager to tease and joke, a bit stubborn, being described as a child who would argue with a fence post. He was so even tempered the harshest words heard from him were "Oh Fiddle!"
He was predeceased by his parents and eight brothers and sisters. He is survived by his loving widow Betty, of the home, children Mike (Sheri), Andy (Sharon), and Laura (MG) Elwell, ten grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, five great great grandchildren and many many friends, all of whom were touched by his kindness.