Ronald 'Sonny' Martin had 'unparallelled' generosity

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | 9:38 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Ronald Wayne "Sonny" Martin didn't have many material possessions, but what he did have, he gave generously. 

Time. Energy. Himself. 

"They only make one of those, and they definitely threw the mold away," his sister Jackie Gray said. "'Sonny's generosity of his time and energy was unparallelled.  It can never be said that he met a stranger."

Mr. Martin, of Osawatomie, Kan., died Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. He was 80.

He was born Sept. 10, 1933, in Moberly to Charles and Mary (Jasper) Martin.  He married Beverly Madonna (Johnson) Martin, and had they had two sons.

A 1951 graduate of Hickman High School, Mr. Martin served stateside in the Army during the Korean conflict. In the 1960s, Mr. Martin served as a business agent for the Columbia Area Cement Finishers Union Local 955. He was also a commercial carpentry contractor, traveling from Pennsylvania to Kansas for more than two decades. Mr. Martin retired after working as a commercial contractor and moved to Osawatomie, Kan. 

During his retirement years, Mr. Martin often provided free before- and after-school care for his neighbor's children, frequented the Whistle Stop Cafe for breakfast, and worked part time at the Truck Stop.    

"He was generous and reliable," Gray said. 

At Christmastime, Mr. Martin always had envelopes for both children in his family and the children in his neighborhood. Inside each envelope was a crisp $2 bill, his signature gift of the holiday season.  

Mr. Martin had already prepared those gifts for this year's Christmas. Six days before his death, he gave the envelopes to his niece, Merry Turner of Ashland. The cards will be given to the children during the Christmas season.

Gray described her brother as a man who loved to feed the neighborhood cats, share his favorite food — deviled eggs — and savor his mother's Christmas divinity candy. He was fun to be around, and his stories were funny regardless of how many times you heard them, Gray said.

"He was a hoot," she said. "Sometimes you'd hear the same story over and over and not even know the person he was talking about. But we'd listen."

Mr. Martin is survived by his son Capt. Charles Verdell Martin; two sisters, Charlene Sapp and her husband, Kenneth, of Ashland, and Jackie Gray, widow of Clayton Gray, of Harrisburg; two grandsons, David and Timothy; four nieces, Merry Turner and husband Greg of Ashland, Cheri Dodson, Angela Gallatin and Pam Bromegan, all of Harrisburg; three nephews, Kenneth Sapp and wife Debbie of Cherokee Village, Ark., Andrew Gray and wife Jessica, and Jon Gray, all of Harrisburg;16 great-nieces and great-nephews; and 3 great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews. 

His younger son, David Mikel Martin, died earlier.

Visitation will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Service will immediately follow at 2:30 p.m. at the same location. Burial will follow the services at Memorial Park Cemetery, where Mr. Martin will be given military honors.

Memorial contributions can be made as a donation to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1864, Columbia, MO 65205.

Condolences can be posted at

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