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City councilor hopes to rename senior center in honor of Lew Martin

Lew Martin tells a story during his 100th birthday party at the Superior Senior Center in 2017. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

A proposal to give the Superior-Douglas County Senior Center a new name, honoring the memory of a long-time advocate for the building and its occupants, is headed to the City Council on Tuesday, March 19, for consideration.

Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, manager of the senior center, is bringing forth a proposal to rename the center in honor of Lew Martin, a Twin Ports broadcast pioneer, longtime public servant, and an advocate for center where he spent a fair amount of time in his later years.

"There's a real sense of loss that was felt here," Van Sickle said. "Those that were close to him really embraced the idea of the renaming — acknowledging that we should be changing the names of things just because we want to, but only to be moved to do so with legitimate, and deep cause."

Martin was a long-time advocate at the senior center, serving on the Senior Connections Board, which leases space in the center for its offices. It's also where Martin participated in Senior Connections meal program, and volunteered after the meals to wash dishes for the program.

"It's important to recognize the many people that have given so much to this building, but Lew's presence is still here in a special way," Van Sickle said.

"The senior center really was, for a lack of a better word, Lew's second home," said Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert. "He was there all the time. He participated. He washed dishes."

Liebaert said he supports the measure.

"This is kind of a unique way to honor somebody that everyone at the senior center's considered the face of the senior center," Liebaert said. He's hopeful that some of the things that are being done now to honor Martin now are maintained in a case at the senior center to share the story with generations to come.

"The importance of naming spaces or buildings after significant people is so that we inspire future generations to conduct their lives at the level of service and commitment that people like Lew Martin have," Mayor Jim Paine said.

Martin was involved until his late 90s and even as he reached a century of living, Paine said.

"We understand that as time goes by, the people who knew Lew Martin will also pass away," Paine said. "What you hope is that when you name something after somebody, eventually someone says, 'Well, who is that?'"

With any luck, it encourages others to learn the story again and encourages others to aspire to the kind of dedicated service to others that Lew Martin provided during his lifetime,

Paine said.

The renaming would recognize the Martin's dedication to life as a public servant and the breadth of that service.

Liebaert said the entire county board is likely to support the measure.

"We all liked Lew," Liebaert said. "We all respected him. We all thought highly of him ... he's going to be missed. Ten years down the line, you hate to say it, but there will be a lot less people that will remember him. Maybe this will give some recognition for his hard work."

Martin, who died Feb. 17, served as a member of the Douglas County Board for an estimated 30 years, on and off, between 1968 and 2012. He also filled a vacancy temporarily on the City Council in 2013.

The Council considers the renaming at 6:30 p.m. in Room 201 of the Government Center, 1316 N. 14th St., Superior.

BREAKOUT BOX:

Friends plan celebration of life

Friends are gathering next week to celebrate the life of Lew Martin, a Twin Ports broadcast pioneer and longtime Douglas County public servant.

The celebration begins with a service at Faith United Methodist Church, where Martin attended church, at 5:30 p.m. March 22, followed by a gathering at the Superior Elks Club.

Martin was a member of the club for 75 years.

During the gathering, people will have an opportunity to share a Lew Martin story celebrating his life.

The gathering was planned to give the community the opportunity to say goodbye.

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