Sports icon Martin "Stump" Martin was laid to rest on Monday with some unusual funeral songs, but ones that rang true for the irrepressible sports writer, coach and rec director.
The theme from Andy Griffith opened the rites at a packed-out Heritage Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe. It was a favorite he enjoyed with wife Deb, and Barney Fife was said to be "Stump's hero."
In the middle of the service, "Put Me In Coach" was played.
Mr. Martin, who wrote sports for the News-Free Press and then was rec director at Rossville and then East Ridge, was remembered as a friend and role model to thousands of kids, a committed Christian and a staunch friend to many.
Stump had so many friends that every parking space in the large lot was taken, and extra chairs had to be carted in to the overlow area.
A close friend told of arriving at Rossville High School and being short in stature. He said Stump Martin was among those taking him under their wing and protecting him.
He called Mr. Martin "grandiose, boisterous, loud and noisy." He said if he "was coming in that door now you would hear and see him."
He was described as competitive and as one who "loved God and kids as well as his family."
As Mr. Martin lay on a hospital bed recently, he said a cardiologist advised that he was only still alive through his indomitable will.
The friend said, "We are celebrating a man who saved so many kids' lives. He saved mine."
Scott Chastain said when Mr. Martin had a Sunday game he would always lead the team in a devotional and there would be the recital of "God's Hall of Fame."
Former Rossville High coach Lynn Murdock said Stump when he was in high school was on the football team for four years and also wrestled all four years. He called him "a true Rossviille Bulldog."
He said his senior year he went through the season with an unblemished wrestling record. He kept winning in the playoffs in the 155-pound category until finally falling in the state quarterfinals to the eventual state champion.
The coach said Stump got his sports writing start doing articles for The Rossvillite - the school newspaper.
After the playing of "I'll Fly Away," former East Ridge Councilman Denny Manning said of Stump, "I love him to death. I'm going to miss him."
He remembered once when Mr. Martin took a youth team to Nashville. At 3 a.m., he got a call with the rec leader exulting, "We Won."
He told of recently going to the hospital to visit Stump, but the lady at the front desk did not have a Stump registered. He said, having never heard the name Marvin ascribed to him, he grew impatient and started searching the halls for him. Stump was soon located.
Rev. Manning said Mr. Martin "impacted other peoples' lives and always in a positive way. He made things happy and joyful."
His minister Darrell Henry said his relationship with Deb was "one of the great love affairs of all time."
He said that Stump Martin "was a flame that burned brightly, but not long enough."