Martin Greenough wasn’t really a Portlander yet; but from what I’ve learned about him in the five days since his death on December 12th, he was someone all of us would have been proud to adopt into our civic family.
There’s been little to nothing about Martin reported in the media. That’s partly because he’d lived here for less than two weeks and he’s not from anywhere around this region. His family is mostly from Pennsylvania. They came to Portland a few days ago after hearing about Saturday night’s crash; but they’ve requested privacy and are not addressing the media. (Note: His family is aware I’m writing this story and they are supportive of it.)
Here’s a statement we received from the family this morning:
“We are extremely saddened with the loss of Martin. He was an amazing person who enjoyed life to the fullest and put a smile on the face of everyone around him. He was deeply loved by his family, and we are grieving our loss and celebrating his life. We would appreciate everyone respecting our privacy at this time as we concentrate on family. Thank you to the cycling community for the support and kind words.”
For the past few days I’ve been trying to learn more about who Martin was. Not because I’m curious, but because it’s important that we, as a city, learn about the victims of traffic crashes in order to create the urgency and compassion needed to do everything we can to make sure there are no more of them in the future.
Martin (his friends called him Marty) was 38 years old. He grew up in the very small, unincorporated town of Big Pond, Pennsylvania with his parents, sister and brother. Big Pond is 2,700 miles east of Portland and just southeast of Lake Erie. The town got its name from nearby Lake Ondawa, a reservoir and popular fishing spot. I’ve never been to that part of the country, but from what I can gather, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. To get to Clarion University, where Martin went to college and served as president of the Theta Xi fraternity in 1998, he would have had to drive through two state forests and one national forest.
And judging from the photos on Martin’s Facebook page, he maintained a love for nature well into his adult life.
Perhaps seeking new adventures in new landscapes Martin moved to Ketchikan, Alaska in May of 2014. He then moved to Honolulu, Hawaii five months later.
One the main things that brought Martin to Portland was his desire to get an advanced degree in nutrition. He was taking pre-requisite courses at the Portland campus of Oregon State University and moved here to get his residency.
To help pay for classes, Martin had just gotten a job from MTR Western, a transportation and bus charter company based in Seattle that also operates out of Portland. He was biking home from work when he was hit on Saturday night.
“We felt honored to have him work for us. He seemed very happy and he had stories of adventures to share. He was definitely a part of our family. We are all devastated to hear this news.”
— a co-worker at MTR Western
On Tuesday I received a text from someone at MTR who knew Martin. “He was our new hire,” said the MTR employee. “I was looking forward to getting to know him.” Martin was hired to be one of MTR’s charter bus drivers, which I’ve since learned is similar to jobs he had in Hawaii and Alaska as a driver and tour guide.
“We felt honored to have him work for us,” the employee continued. “He seemed very happy and he had stories of adventures to share. He was definitely a part of our family. We are all devastated to hear this news.”
Martin left a similar impression with Monica Maggio, the owner of the house in the Cully neighborhood that he had just moved into. I called her last night after she emailed wanting to know more about what happened to her newest housemate.
When Monica and her two other housemates found Martin via a Craigslist ad, she said, “We really felt like we hit the jackpot.” She called one of his references, a former employer, and was blown away at the response. “She raved, raved about Martin and how he was so dependable and wonderful to be around. She told me that their drivers would usually get about 10 positive comments from customers each season. He got 100 of them.”
Monica described Martin as a “very sweet, considerate, organized, humble, and thoughtful person.” During one of his first nights at the house, Monica remembers sitting around the kitchen table just talking. “We ended up having a two-hour conversation without even knowing the time had passed.”
“That’s one of the hardest things for us,” she said. “We didn’t know him very well, but everything we did know about him was that he was a very incredible guy. We were looking forward to the dynamic of the household. It was starting to develop into something very lovely.”
For knowing him just under two weeks, Martin seems to have left a strong impression on Monica.
“He was the type of guy that would sing to himself while washing vegetables in the kitchen while listening to ’90s alternative rock music,” Monica recalled. “He was always smiling to himself.”
UPDATE: Last night in the pouring rain there was a candlelight vigil to remember Martin and the hundreds of other Oregonians who have died in traffic crashes so far this year.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Thanks for turning statistics into humanity for us. Sounds like a good guy, and I’m sorry he didn’t get to stay on this earth longer.
Thanks for this, my deepest condolences to his family.
A very moving piece. BikePortland’s coverage of this tragedy has been exemplary. This is why I am a subscriber.
What are the details on the Saturday night crash? The circumstances of his accident?
Hi Leslie. You can learn more about what happened here – http://bikeportland.org/tag/martin-greenough
What a touching post, Johnathan.
Good on Bike Portland for reminding us incredibly sad every traffic “statistic” is.
32,719 traffic deaths last year.
Each one of those numbers had a *profound* impact on a large circle of people.
This is why we fight.
Rest in Peace, Martin.
So deeply grateful for BP’s handling of this tragedy. Thank-you Jonathan.
Just FYI to a few of you whose comments I’ve deleted. Keeping in a tradition on BikePortland, I will moderate this thread very closely and nothing off-topic or even remotely insensitive will be allowed. This is not a standard post. This post is only to remember Martin Greenough and to pay his life the respect it deserves. Keep in mind that Martin’s family is likely reading this. We have plenty of other stories where we can discuss all the important issues surrounding this crash. Thanks for understanding.
Martin sounds like an amazing person who had a lot to offer his community. Deepest condolences to his family and friends.
As a fellow alumni of Clarion University I can attest to the natural beauty of the area. My sincere condolences to his family.
Martin sounds like exactly the kind of person we all hope to meet and interact with. What a tragic loss to the many people who had the opportunity to know and love him as well as to the rest of us who will never do so.
I’m inspired by this touching piece on his wonderful life. May we all move towards what he modelled.
Well, just heartbreaking. This is a beautiful tribute to someone who sounds like a very good human indeed. His family can be proud. I wish I could say something to make it better for them. I’m at a complete loss. So very sorry.
Godspeed, Martin Greenough
May you Rest In Peace.
Such a tragic and unnecessary loss. Thanks for this profile of Martin. He really does sound like a great guy. My condolences to his family.
Marty was a friend of mine. He was a fraternity brother. Thank you for writing this. I can tell you that everything you’ve been hearing about him is absolutely true. He was a great guy. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. I didn’t get to see him much the last few years, but any time I called or texted, he would put a smile on my face. He will be truly missed by all of us.
The question is, will his death mean more than anything other than a metal sign or white cross on the side of the road?
Thank you for this, our small town is at a loss with the loss of our Marty. This story gives a small glimpse of just how amazing he was. I wish Portland would have had more time with our boy, you would ha e loved him, we all did.
Martin, we called him Marty, was a great man! Always with an infectious grin, quick with a joke and a helping hand. He loved life and the outdoors.marty worked here in the Florida Keys at a Marina where my fishing boat docked. He enjoyed the water and the small town life that the Keys offer. We spoke often of his desire to live in Portland Oregon and to travel more in that region. Ironically he loved the fact that Portland was supposed to be so “Bicycle Friendly”!
Marty will be missed by all who knew him here and aboard. I can only hope that I will be so lucky as to live a life well lived like my buddy Marty.
Thank you Jonathan. This is beautifully written and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to learn about Martin to share with the world how wonderful he was. You have a strong community and I was truly touched to be part of the vigil yesterday.
great tribute to a great man, go with God Marty
Marty was a very close friend and fraternity brothers of mine. He always made me laugh and was so much fun to be around. I was lucky enough to have spent some time with him recently and he talked about moving to Portland. He seemed really happy and excited to start his new adventure. I was so happy for him. He will be missed dearly.
Thank you for honoring my friend with this article.
Thank you for this. I would have liked to have know him.
I knew Marty from when he was a little kid. Took him to Pee Wee football practice . He grew up to be a wonderful Man. So sad for his passing. This was a wonderful tribute you wrote. Rest in Peace Marty.
I had the pleasure of working for Marty in the Florida Keys back about 9 years ago, amazing person. I met him about a week after moving there and immediacy felt welcome and at home, he served as the Dockmaster and had a special level of quirkyness, comedy and great work ethic that made me enjoy my job every day. Some stormy days it would just be sitting around telling stories or the way he would say “damn I’m going to be late, gotta go” while looking at his wrist (he didn’t wear a watch), Marty always drew a smile from everyone around him. It may seem cliche but I have zero negative things to say about the man other than I wish we kept in touch a little more when he moved away. I wish more of your community had the pleasure to meet him… Rest in Pease Marty, you’re certainly missed already.
It is so touching and necessary that we get to learn of the real man and not just fatality #401 (or whatever). Martin “Marty” sounds like a wonderful man with many great qualities. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
If anyone is interested in corresponding with another family who has gone through a similar experience, I’m certainly willing. It’s difficult and can be overwhelming to deal with the loss AND the criminal case. My son was killed by a hit and run impaired driver in 2011. The family is not alone, unfortunately, and they don’t need to feel alone if they don’t want to.
Went to high school with Marty…great guy from a great family…Prayers.
I grew up in Big Pond, near the Greenoughs; such a fun loving family. My heart breaks for them. Please keep them in your prayers during this unfathomable difficult time. And kudos to you Portland for being so kind to somebody that you hardly (or never) knew. Speaks well of your character. It sounds like Marty would have fit in well out there in his new home.
I went to high school with Marty. He always kept me laughing. That was a nice write up.
To Martin’s family and friends; I am so sorry for the loss. I was visiting family in Portland and stopped to help in that short time after accident but before emergency crew arrived. Just felt he was a fine fellow and ached for him and the folks who love him. From a nurse and mother of a couple of adult children who also chose to move to Portland and who also bike to work.
Marty and I worked together in Las Vegas and over the years working together he and I became very good friends. He always had a silly story to tell and made being at work enjoyable. I was sad when he left for his next adventures in florida but, we seemed to keep in touch and shortly after I relocated to Seattle found out he was now in Alaska. His smile was infectious he was a very humble man and loved the outdoors. I was in shock to learn of his accident and still cant believe he was taken from us because of a road that clearly was unsafe to be on and should have been fixed by the DOT before such a tragedy happened. He is in my thoughts everyday. My condolences to his family and friends. Marty may you rest in peace and this is not a goodbye but a see you again buddy…. What a nice article. Thank you