Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 17th, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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