LeTourneau University President Dale Lunsford congratulates Ruben Martin and his mother, Margaret, for the Martin Gas chief’s honor as the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen of 2011.
NEWS HERALD photo by JAMES DRAPER
A Scout is "Trustworthy. Loyal. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. Kind. Obedient. Cheerful. Thrifty. Brave. Clean. Reverent."
Ruben Martin knows the Scout’s law by heart, and though he jokingly admits he hasn’t always been able to keep it, those qualities earned him high praise Thursday afternoon as the East Texas Area Council of Boy Scouts conferred the 2011 Distinguished Citizen Good Turn Award on the Kilgore businessman at Pinecrest Country Club in Longview.
“I can’t think of anybody more deserving,” said Scout Executive/CEO Mike Ballew.
Ballew recalled an incident from the life of American businessman William D. Boyce – lost during a business trip in London in 1909, a young scout led Boyce to his destination, refusing any reward for his service. Inspired by the boy’s care and integrity, in 1910 Boyce chartered the Boy Scouts of America.
“Our award is about people who care and people who inspire,” Ballew explained. Ruben Martin deserves the award “Because he cares and because he inspires others.”
Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt praised Martin, a man he has known for 30 years, for carrying on the legacy of his father, R.S. Martin, and growing the Martin Companies into a multi-state, multinational, multi-trade operation with assets of more than $1 billion.
But even then, Stoudt said, "He is the same, humble man that lives by the word 'trust.' If Ruben Martin gives you his handshake, it's his word, and his word is his bond."
He still exemplifies the Scout ideal of loyalty in "his friendships, his employees, his family and his faith,” Stoudt said. “He treats people with respect regardless of status or title.
“There’s no question Ruben Martin is a beacon for young people and a role model to instill moral integrity in life.”
Dr. Alvin “Bud” Austin, former president and chancellor of LeTourneau University emphasized his friend’s role as a humanitarian – Martin serves as president of Paula Martin Jones Charities, Inc., an organization formed in his late sister’s honor that facilitates programs like the Longview Child Development Center, Boys and Girls Club of Longview, Child Advocacy Center and Presbyterian Children Homes & Services.
“Almost everything you can think of in this region that has needed help and support, Ruben Martin and the Martin family have been involved in that effort,” Austin said.
As a professional, Martin Midstream Partners and Martin Resource Management Corporation employs more than 2,000 people since it began a generation ago in Kilgore. Known locally as ‘Martin Gas’ (or, as master of ceremonies Bill Bankston joked, ‘Ruben Gas’), with Ruben Martin as president and CEO, the company has developed into a ‘provider of choice’ for the transportation and disposition of petroleum products and by-products.
In either role, benefactor or businessman, Austin said Martin exemplifies qualities of compassion and service.
“The kind of leadership it takes to build such an organization speaks to the American work ethic,” Austin added. “He loves hard work and does so as a means of enriching a person’s development.”
Martin teaches by example, Austin said, one of integrity, and “he gives feet to his faith.”
“He is a man of great compassion and generosity toward people in this community where he lives and works.”
The Rev. Jonathan Jehorek of First Presbyterian Church in Longview recalled how Martin, who currently serves as an elder there, was on the pastor nominating committee that brought him to the pulpit 15 years ago.
"Ruben is a person who enjoys giving people opportunities. He enjoys opening doors for people," Jehorek said. Martin opens the door, but doesn't micromanage, he added, stepping out of the way to allow a person to thrive, "to give people an opportunity to use their talents so they can contribute to God's world."
Whether it's giving a job, contributing to a political campaign or supporting a charity, Martin is involved, Jehorek said, and instrumental in many lives. And though he often leads the charge, the pastor added, Martin does so behind the scenes.
"I think if you look closely at our community under the limelight you'll see the fingerprints of Ruben and Sue Martin, and I think our community is better for it."
Accepting the award from past recipients, Martin said he was humbled – “It's quite a lot to live up to and I think the inspiration is going to go from this point forward.
“I probably wasn't the best Boy Scout. I know it's a positive influence in a lot of young people's lives and I truly believe it helps young people to grow in their lives. I've always tried to be Trustworthy Loyal- Helpful- Friendly-Courteous-Kind- Obedient-Cheerful-Thrifty- Brave-Clean-and-Reverent,” he recited in a rush. “Even if I did manage to live up to a few of the things we just went through with the Boy Scout code, I can assure you it's nothing I did. As a Presbyterian, I know we are all fallen, and some of us have probably fallen farther than others, but with that I know that there's hope and there's faith that we can all be saved.
“I believe it's the other people who give us the influences in our lives and really mold our character and really free us from ourselves.”
Martin paid tribute to Sue Martin, his high school sweetheart and wife of 38 years. Both are University of Arkansas graduates and have two daughters and two granddaughters.
He honored Sue’s parents – Doyle and Lavada Thomas – for their influence on his life since he was a 9th grader, and his own parents, R.S. and Margaret Martin.
His father’s oft-repeated mantra, “You get out of life exactly what you put into it,” sticks with him.
“I truly believe that what we put into things, the more we have a chance to receive... I know that I have a responsibility to the next generation to try to bring them up right and help them,” Martin said.
People don’t often have the chance to thank all those who have been an influence on their lives, he said, but they are the ones who deserve the honor.
“We don't have choices – we don't have choices of where we're born or when or who our parents are or who’s going to influence us in our lives. And you're going to have to remember it's nothing I did, it's nothing we do, it's solely by the grace of God we have these influences that do come into our lives. You just never know how small or how large your influence is going to be.”
For more in the Kilgore News Herald, click HERE