By Bethany Young, staff writer, Fairport-East Rochester
Nov. 30, 2010
Fairport coach and educator Dave Martens was a fighter, even until his death. After a 15-year struggle with thyroid cancer he passed away on Friday, Nov. 26, leaving behind a legacy that has touched the lives of many.
“He took on any challenge he had, even since he was young, and he would always win whether it was coaching or helping a family member,” said son John. “He was dedicated and focused in everything.”
He retired in 1991 after serving as director of health, physical education and athletics for the Fairport School District for 18 years.
During that time he was named New York State Athletic Director of the Year twice, and was recently one of 12 individuals to be inducted into the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s first Hall of Fame Class in December, 2009.
He is survived by his sister Jean; four children, John, Jeff, Janet, and stepson Shane; two grandchildren, Jordan and Jenna; and two great-grandchildren, Jessica and Joshua.
Many saw him as intimidating — the type who commanded respect when he entered the room. But despite his businesslike persona, his family remembers him as a loving father.
“If you didn’t know him personally you wouldn’t see that side of him, but I think he liked it that way,” said son Jeff.
Mr. Martens was born and raised in the Boston area and played baseball and basketball at Springfield College before getting signed to play major league baseball for the Milwaukee Braves in 1958. Following his athletic career he became a teacher and coach in Rushford before working at Fairport.
His distinguished career at Fairport from1973 to 1981 was marked with a number of honors and outreaches. Martens founded a task force to eliminate substance abuse in high school athletics, called Operation Offense.
In an interview with Messenger Post last year, he told reporters this was one of his proudest accomplishments.
“One of my goals was to make student athletes chemical-free,” said Martens. “I think if I saved one student’s life, then my interest in that type of program is worthwhile.”
His favorite hobbies later in life included spending time with his family and playing golf. John jokes that his father always mocked golf, saying it wasn’t a real sport until his sons convinced him to try it for himself.
“He was such a natural athlete,” said John. “He hit 50 golf balls and 45 of them went straight down the middle.”
Since then, he changed his mind about the game, and routinely played at least three times a week at Eagle Vale Golf Course.
Other awards and recognitions include Rochester Sports Legends Frontier Field Walk of Fame (2002), Special commendations from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (1991) and the Drug Enforcement Administration.