Larry McMartin, 81, Claremont
Larry James McMartin, 81, of Claremont, left this earth a kinder and gentler place because of his presence among us. He died Saturday, May 26, 2018, at home on the land that was homesteaded in 1856, and surrounded by those he loved most.
Larry was born to Donald James and Pearl Irene (Hutton) McMartin on Sept. 3, 1936, at their home in rural Claremont, the second of six children. He attended school in Claremont until the middle of his ninth-grade year – just long enough to be named All-Conference for the varsity football team.
When the Southern School of Agriculture opened in Waseca in 1953, some neighborhood moms approached Larry’s parents. He’d be a great influence on their sons, they said, and the McMartins agreed. Larry was off to ag school, where he continued to play sports and learned the art of farming. After his graduation in 1956, Larry returned to Claremont to farm with his father, slowly buying cows to start his own dairy herd.
When the girl he planned to take to a square dance got sick, her roommate, Joyce Collins, stepped in to take her place. Joyce knew Larry was a good dancer; she would learn on July 13, 1963, that he was an even better husband. They married at First Lutheran Church in Emmons, then moved into Larry’s grandparents’ house on the farm, where they began their family.
After the death of his parents, Larry purchased the home and the land his great-grandparents had farmed. He milked as many as 70 cows for 30 years and farmed more than 500 acres, all while contributing to his church and his community. He retired from farming in 2005.
Larry was named Midwest Farmer of the Year, Claremont Citizen of the Year, and is in the Dodge County Fair Board Hall of Fame for his many years of service. He was also a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Claremont, which he attended all of his life; he served on the board of the American Dairy Association and was a board member of Hillside Cemetery in Claremont.
In addition to farming, Larry worked at JED Welding and drove a school bus for the Head Start program in Dodge County and for the Triton School District. He secretly admitted he liked the little kids better than the big kids.
Larry was a devoted steward of the land that he loved. Over the years, he raised and released more than 1,000 pheasants in an attempt to repopulate the area that had seen a marked decline. His time singing with the Faribault Area Lakelanders Barbershop Chorus brought much joy both to Larry and the people they entertain. When Larry had heart surgery a few years ago, barbershop music filled the operating room, per his request. The Lakelanders will sing for Larry one last time at his funeral.
He loved peanut butter M&Ms, and collected John Deere memorabilia and Heston belt buckles, in addition to antique woodworking tools. He didn’t do much woodworking himself, but Larry treasured the trunk filled with tools that his great-grandfather brought to America from Scotland, and bought more when he came across them.
Mr. McMartin was incredibly proud of his Scottish heritage, often wearing the plaid of his Cameron Highlanders clan. He drew the line at wearing a kilt though, saying he didn’t have the legs for it. Larry’s legacy will be a quiet one, much like Larry himself. Because he always took the time to mentor the young people who worked with him on the farm, he was able to teach by example how to be a good farmer, and an even better person. His deep, yet simple love and genuine goodness will always be remembered by those who were lucky enough to have known him.
Larry is survived by his loving wife, Joyce, of Claremont; three daughters, Julie (and Bill) Hudson, Debbie Crossfield, and Penny (and Ralph) O’Brien; one son, Scott (and Allison) McMartin; 10 grandchildren, Erin (and Jeff) Donnell, Billy Charles (and Keysha) Hudson, Holly (and Jamie) Chesnut, Shawn (and Beth) Hudson, Forrest Crossfield, Isaiah Crossfield, Derek O’Brien, Jake O’Brien (and Caitlin), Jacob Blair, and Henry McMartin; nine great-grandchildren, Sydney Donnell, Silas Donnell, Lynlee Walker, Talen Hudson, Oliver Chesnut, Hudson Chesnut, Cora Hudson, Corbin Hedberg, and Scarlett O’Brien; three sisters, Donna (and LaVern) Strand, Irene (and Jim) Ness, Shirley (and Larry) Johnson; and a brother, Donald (and Mona) McMartin.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Dean McMartin.
Funeral services were held Thursday, May 31, 2018 at First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Douglas Walters officiating. Interment was in the Hillside Cemetery, rural Claremont.
Memorials are preferred to First Presbyterian Church or to the donor’s choice.